All treats on the streets of Baldwin Park
When the Halloween sun gets low, not even all the way down, Daniel Dennis gets ready.
“It pops off early,” said the radio personality. “The littles will come in when it’s still light outside. Then it just starts to spiral from there.”
The co-host of local podcast “A Mediocre Time With Tom and Dan,” Dennis lives and works in Baldwin Park. On Halloween, the former-Navy-base-turned-near-downtown-neighborhood is the place to be for kids walking, what parent Suzanne Santos Costner calls, “the processed sugar death march.”
In 2016, real estate website HomeUnion Research Services ranked Baldwin Park one of the top 20 neighborhoods in the country for trick-or-treating. But that’s hardly news to parents. Denny O’Neil, president of Baldwin Park’s residential owners association since 2007, has seen a steady uptick in the number of trick-or-treaters year over year.
“Last year, we had 2,300 kids come by our house,” said the resident. “The year before it was 1,800.”
What makes Baldwin Park such an attractive market for trick-or-treating?
Here’s where this entertainment reporter finally gets to exercise his city planning degree:
Planned and developed in the 1990s, with the first residents coming in 2002, Baldwin Park is laid out according to the principles of New Urbanism. That means a variety of high-density housing options, mixed-use buildings, plenty of public parks, easily accessible walkways and other features that make for a more connected living space.
“The design of the neighborhood kind of lends itself to people being friendly,” said O’Neil. He points to the houses not being set back too far from the street. “You’re right off the sidewalk. You can’t get away from the sidewalk.”
Santos Costner, who comes from the nearby neighborhood of Corrine Terrace, also appreciates the sidewalks, but there are more personal touches that she thinks really makes it.
“The thing that I see being really different is the amount of decorations,” she said. “The porches have fog machines and light displays and all the adults are dressed up to hand out candy, which makes it a really fun experience for the kids. It’s almost like trick-or-treating through a movie set of some small New England town that really loves Halloween.”
Dennis has even seen people go as far as to put on full magic acts outside. “It’s like this street party; it’s crazy,” he said.
Being this popular isn’t without its drawbacks. The streets become a parking lot, and the actual parking fills up fast. “Once you’re in, you’re in,” said Dennis.
“In Baldwin Park, the street parking is public parking,” said O’Neil. “On Halloween, my street will be parked solid. It’s one day. We can handle it.”
But the traffic doesn’t stop on the roads. Dennis, whose daughter turned three this year, found getting around with a baby to have some challenges. “Last year was a little overwhelming,” he said. “It’s hard to navigate a stroller through 15 other strollers.”
Still, he’s looking forward to this year now that she can walk. “You don’t have to be out very long,” he said. “You can hit a solid 10 houses and come home with a good stash and be done in, like, 45 minutes.”
Most people hand out the candy from their porches, said O’Neil. It’s a good system because it lets parents know when a house is finished. “When you’re done, you just go inside and turn off your porch light,” he said. “No one bothers you after that.”
For people looking to contribute rather than just load up their pillow sacks, Santos Costner has a few suggestions. For example, pick up a couple bags of candy and give them to houses in Baldwin Park to hand out. “I buy whatever I would normally give out at my house and give it to a friend,” she said.
She also brings packs of glow bracelets to give out to kids in dark costumes. “Some of the side streets get pretty dark,” she said. “When I see kids dressed all in black, I offer them a glow bracelet so they can be seen.”
Dennis has lived in Baldwin Park for seven years. Before his own child came along, he used to avoid the ritual. “I would just put out a bowl of candy and turn off my lights,” he said. Now, he’s into it. “I love it,” he said. “We’ll make one pass. And then all the streets toward the sides, that’s where it seems to be the craziest.”
No holiday is without its grinches. “Every year someone complains about kids from outside the neighborhood trick-or-treating,” said O’Neil. But he doesn’t let them stop the fun. “I just say, ‘So what? It’s Halloween.’”
Source: “All treats on the streets of Baldwin Park,” Orlando Sentinel