PARKERSBURG - Thousands of children will be trick-or-treating door-to-door from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Parkersburg, Vienna and Belpre in hopes of getting as much candy as possible.
Mostly, residents give individually sealed-and-wrapped candy to trick-or-treaters and homemade treats are largely a thing of the past. Despite her talent for making tasty homemade treats, Vienna resident Cynthia Buskirk gives miniature candy bars to trick-or-treating children.
"As a child, I remember mom making popcorn balls and they were so good, but you can't give out anything homemade anymore. We've never had a problem (with treat tampering) in this area that I've ever heard of, but I didn't let my kids have anything like that unless we knew the people who made them. There's not a problem, but it's being careful," she said.
Ripley resident Ed Smolder said the absence of homemade treats leaves a void in the holiday.
"I didn't want any of that candy, I wanted bubble gum and popcorn balls. People used to give out popcorn balls before everybody got all afraid of germs and razor blades. Popcorn balls were the elite Halloween treat. We knew exactly who gave those out and made to sure hammer those houses a couple of times," he said.
This year, Vienna resident Kay Murphy will be giving candy bars and pretzels. When she started handing out treats nearly 50 years ago, the offering was usually candy bars and suckers.
"Back then, kids were dressed mostly like cartoon characters, hillbillies and race-car drivers. Anymore, we get ghouls and goblins and some super heroes. Kids have always dressed like super heroes Batman, Superman or whatever movie came out that year," she said.
Those in residential urban neighborhoods usually have plenty of treaters to treat, but those in rural areas often have very few as rural children are lured by the easy trick-or-treat pickings in the cities.
Parkersburg resident Edelene Wood said she sees many children who live outside the city come by for trick-or-treating.
"We do get a lot of kids coming in from the suburbs, they'll come in big cars full of them. I always have about 100 kids, but they will keep coming as long as your porch light is on," she said.
While Murphy has around 200 children trick-or-treating each year, Walker resident Linda Mullen says she has zero.
"In the 10 years Danny and I have been married, we have not had one single trick-or-treater. We live so far out we don't have kids on the road and the ones we do have, their parents take them into town. I have treats for my grandchildren and keep popcorn balls handy just in case," she said.
Smolder said when he was a boy, trick-or-treating was a popular tradition.
"I can't remember what I dressed up as. Maybe I was a cowboy or maybe the booger man, I don't know, but trick-or-treating was an important tradition where I grew up,'' Smolder said. ''We trick-or-treated until kids would be saying 'mom, those kids need a shave!' We never threw eggs or pumpkins or anything like they do these days, but if you went past a house and they turned their porch light off, they got soap on their car and their windows. It was automatic.''