But, as you know, this year things were different.
This year, what with so many truly scary things taking place here and around the world, we all wanted to keep fear, disturbance and danger -- even the silly, schlocky Halloween kind -- to a minimum. Then again, no one wanted to forgo the holiday altogether, either. So, as we naturally do in times of crisis, we turned to the government for a solution. And they came through. With a variety of safe, off-the-streets, low-fright/high-fun activities millions of Americans took part in. For instance:
The Mansion of Modulated Terror: Organized by OSHA, this haunted house's goal wasn't to eliminate fear but to strictly regulate it, thus containing the emotion within allowable parameters. To this end, each visitor was outfitted with a heart monitor and if, during any part of the tour, her/his heart rate increased by more 10 percent, s/he was escorted from the building. Inside the Mansion itself, nerves were precluded from excessive jangling thanks to the toned-down nature of the "scare stations." For instance, instead of snarling werewolves chasing guests down hallways, cuddly werepuppies chased their own tails; and the traditional headless horseman was replaced by a man with a very bad haircut.
Vandaland: For many boys between the ages of 12 and 18, Halloween just isn't Halloween without wreaking severe property damage. To accommodate these youths, HUD created Vandaland, a prosecution-free suburban wonderland constructed for the express purpose of being trashed. Houses in Vandaland featured exterior walls made almost entirely of glass, for maximum soaping opportunities; trees and shrubs were designed to optimize TPing and a special "self-cleaning" feature removed the tissue every eight minutes, leaving "virgin targets" for the next wave of punks looking to "harm 'em with Charmin;" and paper bags were not only pre-filled with excrement (to prevent contact with harmful bacteria) but were easily and safely ignited by a heating element built into every front stoop.
Operation: Enduring Treats: Staged in both rural and urban communities by the combined branches of the U.S. military, highly trained Special Ops forces first parachuted into a targeted neighborhood, then fanned out to commandeer all stockpiles of sweets and other highly sugared foodstuffs under the control of individual civilian households. Upon completion of this mission, Black Hawk helicopters were called into the area to airlift the teams and their confiscated confections back to base. The purpose of these remarkable, lightening fast raids was, said General Woodrow (Woody) Bommem, "to demonstrate our powerful taste for candy."
The Chick-chick-chicken Coop: Designed and developed by the Department of Health and Human Services for kids ages 5-12, The Chicken Coop was intended to simultaneously assuage fears while building self-esteem by showing children how courageous they are compared to many grown-ups. Children were led past zoolike enclosures where several varieties of sniveling contemporary adults were on display, including People Who Refuse to Fly on Commercial Airlines; The "Quick! Gimme a Gas Mask" Gang; and Cipromaniacs, a horde of simpleminded yellowbellies who hysterically hoard antibiotics. One exhibit of especially half-witted cowards, "The Ethnic Intimidators," a mob that harasses and berates Arab-Americans, was shut down almost immediately when it was discovered they were making everyone sick.
Red, White and Boo Ball: These events, cooked up by the Department of Education, were held at hundreds of public schools nationwide. The hook? Kids were told to come as their favorite patriot in American history. Unfortunately, due to the state of modern public education, not one child could recall the name of a single patriot -- much less dress like him/her -- and the balls were a bust.
Dick Cheney's [Classified] Bunker o' [Classified]: The White House has provided scant details on this celebration, saying only that it did take place at an unspecified time in an undisclosed, fully-secured remote location. The guest list has not been, nor is it expected to be, released; no photos were taken or permitted. It has been confirmed that treats were handed out to attendees but no specific brands were named and Press Secretary Ari Fleischer would only say they were "of a nougat and nut nature." ©