Trick-or-treating is a terrific time in most neighborhoods, but there’s a street in Cranford that’s become known as the “Halloween Street.” For the residents of this avenue as well as the kids and parents who will make their way there on October 31st, it has become so much more meaningful than just giving and getting candy. We were so happy that one resident reached out to us and asked us to share her family’s love for this tradition!
Ellen Travers moved to Herning Ave. 21 years ago. Her husband, Pedro Ramirez, grew up in Spain and hadn’t experienced an American Halloween. The first year they gave out candy together on Halloween was a weekend day, and Pedro was so delighted at the eager little faces that appeared at his doorstep, he gave out handfuls of candy and ran out of treats before the sun went down. For the rest of the day he and Ellen took turns racing to the drug store to pick up more candy as a seemingly never-ending flow of kids came a’knockin.’
Ellen and Pedro have three kids (Patrick, now 22; Andrew, now 18; and Grace, now 11), and over time the whole family watched as Halloween evolved into a true tradition on Herning, with the street eventually being barricaded off for several hours every Halloween to allow the crowds to walk the streets safely. Ellen began offering free hot coffee and water to passers-by on Halloween. According to Ellen: “One grandfather whom we’d see every year told me how excited he’d be when he’d get to my corner, knowing that there would be hot coffee waiting to warm him up, and he expressed how happy he was that his grandkids had this safe place to trick-or-treat.”
When I asked Ellen how much candy she anticipated giving out this year, she said anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 pieces!! But she doesn’t buy all that candy herself, since lots of candy is donated to Herning residents as word has spread of the large number of trick-or-treaters there. Officially, you can donate candy to 37 Herning Ave, and the owners there will distribute donations evenly among the residents of the street. But plenty of parents just show up with a bag or two of candy, and while their kids trick-or-treat they ask residents who might need a refill of goodies.
Many of the residents on Herning truly deck out their properties with Halloween decorations–some spooky, some downright adorable. A good number of the homeowners set up “camp” at the end of their driveways so the kids can get the candy faster and easier, and it becomes something of a block party. In fact, in past years a band has even entertained the crowds!
Ellen’s sons–both Eagle Scouts–hardly trick-or-treated themselves growing up because they so looked forward to greeting all the kids at their house on Halloween! They learned that some children came from neighborhoods that weren’t ideal for trick-or-treating, and for those kids, a visit to Herning on Halloween meant so much more than a few handfuls of candy–it meant a safe haven where kids could be kids. Ellen says, “For my kids to see community outreach in their own neighborhood means the world to me.”
When Ellen’s son Andrew was recently going off to college, he asked his older brother, Patrick, what he would miss most while being away from home. Patrick’s reply? “Halloween!” Patrick himself would ask for photos of the festivities over the years when he couldn’t make it back for Halloween, and this Saturday he plans to trek home from New York to experience his favorite holiday all over again.
If you’re planning to check out Herning Ave. this Halloween, consider bringing a bag of candy to donate if you have the means. The street will be closed for the festivities from 3pm to 6pm. And follow your nose to the coffee brewing at Ellen’s house at the very start of Herning Ave. Her family’s big hearts and smiles will set the mood for a fantastic Halloween!