By Tom Henry | as published in the November 4, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News
I have never felt safer nor more hopeful than I did late Tuesday afternoon as I walked up and down the streets of Blytheville (mainly Main Street and Broadway). I was protected by numerous strong and brave super heroes defending our town from every conceivable form of evil. Each walked with justice inspiring “uniforms” and each had broad, friendly, happy smiles. But there was more. I also saw just as many members of royalty, crime fighters, fairy tale characters, doctors, nurses, ball players, lady bugs, butterflies and yes even a few friendly monsters and villains. BUT, even the monsters and villains inspired hope in me.
“Trick or Treat on Main Street” this year was a booming success! I have been told that there were over 3,000 people and well over 1,500 children alone that came out to participate. In fact, I know for a fact that one merchant did a head court of well over 1,000 children alone coming through their doors! From my vantage point, there were easily more people for “Trick or Treat” than we have had in some years for our annual festivals. That is not a negative comment about the annual festivals – it was a huge pat on the back regarding the wonderful thing that the merchants, parents and emergency personnel did for your kids that made the environment fun, safe and magical for so many.
It would be easy to just think of how happy it made the children. And that surely would have been enough as they hauled in bucket loads of candy. But honestly, no one enjoyed the event more than I did! It reminded me that there still are moments of magic left in our world.
My coworkers sat out on our front steps and handed out candy to all the wonderful children, and they tell me that at least 75 to 80 percent of the children were polite, saying “trick or treat” as they are supposed to and then also saying “thank you.” A sweet reminder that Blytheville children can be well behaved and that they are certainly a gift from God to brighten our sometimes dizzying, cold, callused busy world.
So, the next time you get a chance, tell the merchants that participated how much you appreciated it. I promise you that their outreach to the children of Blytheville (and surrounding areas) was not a money making proposition for them. They probably couldn’t have peddled their wares even if they had tried too. There were simply that many wonderful children out there; and so for at least two hours, everything stopped for our children!
Another thing I noticed was how the children within the costumes took on the confidence and strides that are associated with the characters they were portraying. The superheroes were strutting with full confidence and vigor. The precious, darling queens all walked with regal dignity. The children dressed as doctors or nurses believed, even for just a couple hours, that those careers were really and truly well within their grass. Dreams came alive for some – but unfortunately not all.
Nothing inspires hope and dreams like children do. We must do everything that we can, not to lie to our children and tell them that the world owes them everything (Trust me I certainly don’t believe in participation trophies), but on the other hand – we must never be the one responsible for killing a child’s dream or for causing a child to believe that anything is impossible for them.
Now I know that Halloween is just a silly holiday in most ways. In fact, I have never ever really liked Halloween (even as a child). But Tuesday, at least in Blytheville, Halloween was a magical moment in time where some wearied, burdened, poor children of God were allowed to hope, dream and smile. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
Now before this column ends I have something that I beg you to read to the children around you. You can tell them that the words are from you or that they are from me, it really doesn’t matter…but please just let them hear these words:
“I want you to know that you are loved and worthy of being loved. You are special and a one of a kind treasure. You are important and no one is better than you. Also, YOU can do anything that you put your mind to, as long as you are willing to work hard enough for it. For you, NOTHING is impossible! You can be and you can do ANYTHING that you want to do in this world.”
Please email me and let me know how the children reacted to those words. Thank you.