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One of our fondest childhood memories is dressing up on Halloween and collecting a pillowcase full of candy. It’s one of the rites of fall in the United States.
Kids all over the country agonize over what kind of costume to wear. They look forward to Halloween parades, trick-or-treat events, and going to school in costume.
In addition, for many children, Halloween is their first charitable experience as they collect donations from the homes they visit on behalf of UNICEF or other organizations to help undernourished children in the United States and other countries.
Because Halloween is an early-evening event, with nightfall coming earlier, many parents or guardians accompany the kids — especially the younger ones — as they go door-to-door to ensure they remain safe.
24/7 Wall Street ranked thousands of towns across the U.S. based on measures related to the trick-or-treating experience. We reviewed the share of children 14 years old and younger, housing occupancy and poverty rates, and the prevalence of crime. We also considered the number of nearby Halloween-themed businesses — such as costume stores and haunted houses.
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Read on to find out if your town is among the best for trick-or-treaters.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Margaret
• Pop. age 14 and under: 36.6 percent
Trick-or-treaters can feel safe in Margaret, where the violent crime is just 65 incidents per 100,000 people. In this town of about 4,500 people, nearly 37 percent of its residents are under the age of 14. Margaret is 27 miles northeast of Birmingham, where Halloween celebrants can visit a haunted warehouse and attend the Up All Nightmare Halloween Horror Marathon and Costume Party on Oct. 13.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Valdez
• Pop. age 14 and under: 22.7 percent
Valdez, the northernmost town on the list with a population of almost 4,000, is nearly surrounded by parks and forests. Valdez holds an annual Halloween carnival.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Gilbert
• Pop. age 14 and under: 26.2 percent
With a population of more than 226,000 people, Gilbert is the most populous city on the list. Its residents have plenty of nearby haunted venues to choose from, including the Gauntlet Haunted House, the Sanctum of Horror in Mesa, and the Rosson House Museum in Phoenix.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Cave Springs
• Pop. age 14 and under: 24.6 percent
Halloween revelers can go to the Asylum Haunted House and Ozark Corn Maze Pumpkin Patch in Cave Springs, a town of about 2,800 people located 19 miles north of Fayetteville. The poverty rate in Cave Springs is 2.5 percent, more than 16 percentage points lower than the state rate, which represents one of the widest disparities on the list.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Ladera Ranch
• Pop. age 14 and under: 34.4 percent
In this affluent community of more than 27,000 — where 32 percent of households have a median annual income of more than $200,000 — more than 34 percent of residents are under the age of 14. Ladera Ranch is between Los Angeles and San Diego.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Firestone
• Pop. age 14 and under: 27.6 percent
Firestone, located about 30 miles north of Denver, has one of the higher percentages of occupied housing units on the list, at nearly 98 percent. There are plenty of places for trick-or-treaters to visit, including Fear of the Dark Haunted House and Nightmare City Haunted House.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Darien
• Pop. age 14 and under: 26.3 percent
Halloween celebrants can feel safe on the streets of this affluent Connecticut town, one of the wealthiest in the U.S., with annual median household income of more than $208,000. Darien has one of the lowest violent crime rates on the list at 4.5 incidents per 100,000 in population. Every October, Darien hosts the Tokeneke Pumpkin Carnival.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Clayton
• Pop. age 14 and under: 28.8 percent
More than 28 percent of the population of Clayton of just over 3,000 people are children under the age of 14. The town hosts the Boo! at the Zoo event Fridays and Saturdays in October, where trick-or-treaters can walk through the haunted woods, view a graveyard, and encounter scarecrows, skeletons, and witches. Clayton is about 16 miles northwest of the state capital of Dover.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Parkland
• Pop. age 14 and under: 24.6 percent
There is a haunted house south of Parkland — part of the Miami metropolitan area — and many Halloween-themed stores nearby. The town will host a Halloween festival on Oct. 26 at Pine Trails Park, a free event open to the public.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Johns Creek
• Pop. age 14 and under: 22.9 percent
A low violent-crime rate — 31 incidents per 100,000 — is reassuring for trick-or-treaters in this town of more than 82,000, the second-biggest town on our list. About 10 miles away in the town of Suwanee is the Trail of Terror Haunted Trail. Johns Creek is about 27 miles northeast of Atlanta.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Hickam Housing
• Pop. age 14 and under: 38.2 percent
At 38.2 percent, Hickam Housing in Hawaii has one of the highest shares of children 14 years old and younger of any town on the list, and many of these kids are from military families. The haunted village of Waipahu, open Fridays and Saturdays in October, is a Halloween fright venue for trick-or-treaters.
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• Best town to trick-or-treat: Shelley
• Pop. age 14 and under: 35.3 percent
The Theatre of Lost Souls is the main attraction for trick-or-treaters in Shelley, a town of just over 4,000 n southeastern Idaho. Originally called the Virginia Theatre, it was opened 100 years ago by a motion picture enthusiast. In the theater, attendees claim to have seen dark shadows, a little girl clad in white, an old lady sitting in a chair, and mysterious light orbs.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Gilberts
• Pop. age 14 and under: 31.5 percent
Gilberts also has an extremely low crime rate of 25.7 incidences per 100,000 residents, far lower than the state rate of 436.3. In Gilberts, you can experience the terror trail, which is open on Friday and Saturday nights starting around Oct. 14. Gilberts has two haunted houses within close proximity, Warehouse X Haunted Attraction and Evil Intentions.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: New Whiteland
• Pop. age 14 and under: 27.4 percent
No violent crimes were reported in New Whiteland, located about 19 miles south of Indianapolis. More than 99 percent of the housing units in New Whiteland, a town of more than 5,800 residents, are occupied. There are many Halloween-themed options to choose from in the Indianapolis area, including the Hannah House, where the ghosts of hidden slaves who perished there in a fire supposedly haunt the place.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Bondurant
• Pop. age 14 and under: 34.6 percent
Almost 35 percent of Boundrant’s over 5,000 residents are under age 14. Also in the town, — about 15 miles northeast of Des Moines — nearly 97 percent of the housing units are occupied, so kids can be fairly sure someone will open the door when they say “trick or treat.” At Geisler Farms, families can enjoy pumpkin patches, wagon rides and corn mazes. Des Moines offers a trove of haunted houses and scream parks.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: St. Marys
• Pop. age 14 and under: 30.8 percent
Nearly 31 percent of the town of 2,793 residents are children under the age of 14. St. Marys is 30 minutes from Topeka. In nearby Wamego, Halloween revelers can visit the town’s opera house, which becomes a haunted opera house each Saturday in October.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Francisville
• Pop. age 14 and under: 26.5 percent
Francisville is in the northernmost part of Kentucky. Six miles south of Francisville in Burlington, trick-or-treaters can enjoy fall festival attractions at Kinman Farms, such as hay rides and a corn maze. Francisville, with a population of 9,452, has a poverty rate of 0.7 percent, one of the lowest on our list and 18 percentage points lower than the state rate.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Blanchard
• Pop. age 14 and under: 19.2 percent
Blanchard, in Louisiana’s upper northwest, is the best town for trick-or-treating in the state. Why? Despite the town’s small population — not even 3,000 people inhabit the area — there are Halloween and novelty stores in nearby towns such as Shreveport and Bossier City, providing plenty of costume options for the community. The town is also very safe with only 68 violent crimes per every 100,000 residents, compared with the statewide average of 566.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Winslow
• Pop. age 14 and under: 18.9 percent
The violent crime rate is low in Winslow, about 26 violent crimes per 100,000 people. In Winslow, which is about 19 miles northeast of the state capital of Augusta, Halloween celebrants can enjoy Fred Nassar’s Haunted Trail and Pumpkin farm.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Urbana
• Pop. age 14 and under: 30.8 percent
About 31 percent of Urbana’s 10,872 residents are under the age of 14. Chances are good there that the door will open for them when its young residents say trick-or-trick, since 99.7 percent of the housing units are occupied. Urbana is about 15 miles southeast of Middletown, which hosts a scarecrow march for kids on Oct. 20.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Hanscom
• Pop. age 14 and under: 41.0 percent
Hanscom, home of an Air Force base, is a town of 1,943, one of the smallest municipalities on the list. About 41 percent of its residents are under the age of 14, one of three towns on our list with a percentage above 40 percent. Hanscom is about 20 miles northwest of Boston near Route 95. Halloween revelers can take haunted hayrides in nearby Framingham or go on the trick-or-treat trail at the Zoo Howl at Franklin Park Zoo on Oct. 27 and 28.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: East Grand Rapids
• Pop. age 14 and under: 26.6 percent
East Grand Rapids has an assortment of Halloween-esque attractions, most notably haunted houses and an amusement park called The Haunt. This 20,000-square-foot indoor facility has been inducing fear — and thrill — in western Michigan residents since 2001. More than one-quarter of its population are kids 14 years and younger.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Elko New Market
• Pop. age 14 and under: 31.3 percent
The Minnesota town reported no crimes per 100,000, based on the latest available crime data, so trick-or-treaters should feel safe. More than 31 percent of the town of 4,472 residents are under the age of 14. Also, 97.5 percent of housing units in Elko New Market, located on Route 35 in the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area, are occupied. That is one of the higher percentages on the list. The town is scheduled to hold its annual Halloween party for children in up to the fifth grade on Oct. 27.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Madison
• Pop. age 14 and under: 23.0 percent
The town of Madison, with a population of 25,473, is 15 miles north of the state capital Jackson, where trick-or-treaters can take part in pumpkin-carving activities. Madison’s poverty rate of 3.1 percent is more than 19 percentage points lower than the state’s rate, the biggest difference on our list.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Glendale
• Pop. age 14 and under: 25.7 percent
Glendale is home to fewer than 6,000 people, with more than one-quarter of the population 14 years old and younger. Glendale is only a 20-minute drive from St. Louis. The town’s poverty rate is just 1.3 percent, 14 percentage points below the state average. Glendale has myriad costume stores nearby, 11 to be exact, including Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon, a costume rental warehouse.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Malmstrom
• Pop. age 14 and under: 30.7 percent
There is an Air Force base at Malmstrom, which is about nine miles east of Great Falls, where a variety of Halloween-related diversions such as corn mazes, zombie walks, and haunted carnivals can be found. About 31 percent of Malmstrom’s 3,933 residents are children under the age of 14.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Waverly
• Pop. age 14 and under: 30.7 percent
Waverly is about 15 miles northeast of Nebraska’s capital Lincoln. Nearly 31 percent of its 3,686 residents are under the age of 14. Hallowpalooza! is scheduled for Oct. 28 in Lincoln, and it’s free for children.
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• Best town to trick-or-treat: Winnemucca
• Pop. age 14 and under: 27.3 percent
Winnemucca is about 165 miles northeast of Reno. Roughly 27 percent of the town of 7,881 residents are children under the age of 14. The Lazy P Adventure Farm Barn of Terror and adjoining corn maze are options for Halloween revelers.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Milford
• Pop. age 14 and under: 20.7 percent
Milford is New Hampshire’s best town for trick-or-treating. About one in five residents is 14 years of age or younger, and there are over 15 haunted houses in and around the town. Also, the area is pretty safe, with about 71 violent crimes reported per every 100,000 people.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Fair Haven
• Pop. age 14 and under: 27.8 percent
Fair Haven, a community at the Jersey Shore, has a poverty rate of less than 1 percent. The one haunted house, C. Casola Farms Haunted Attractions, features the Haunted Hayride of Terror and the Marlboro Zombie Breakout.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Holloman
• Pop. age 14 and under: 35.3 percent
More than 35 percent of the 4,070 residents of Holloman, where there is an Air Force base, are under the age of 14, one of the higher percentages on the list. About 20 miles north of the town is the haunted house Horror Hall, which opens for the Halloween season Fridays and Saturdays beginning Oct. 12.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Rye
• Pop. age 14 and under: 25.5 percent
Rye, just north of New York City, is one of the more affluent towns on the list. More than 42 percent of the households there have an annual median household income of $200,000, the second-most of any town on our list. One out of every four of the nearly 16,000 residents is 14 years old and under. Should those young ghouls load up on sugary treats for Halloween, they have plenty of dentists to care for their teeth, because there are more than 109 dentists for every 100,000 people in Westchester County, where Rye is located.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Whispering Pines
• Pop. age 14 and under: 28.0 percent
In Whispering Pines, in central North Carolina, 28 percent of the town’s 3,125 residents are those under the age of 14. About 10 miles away from Whispering Pines is the Aberdeen Fear Factory, which is open Thursday through Saturday beginning Sept. 28.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Lincoln
• Pop. age 14 and under: 29.1 percent
Lincoln, a town of 3,311 and part of the Bismarck metropolitan area, is a municipality that registers 100 percent in housing occupancy. Its poverty rate is just 0.5 percent. About 20 miles from Lincoln is Fort Abraham Lincoln, supposedly a place of “paranormal myths and legends’’ that hosts the annual Haunted Fort on Friday and Saturday nights in October.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Powell
• Pop. age 14 and under: 28.1 percent
More than 28 percent of the town’s population of 12,436 are children under the age of 14. The Scareatorium and the Carnage Haunted House are diversions for Halloween revelers in nearby Columbus. Powell has one of the lowest poverty rates on the list at 0.3 percent.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Piedmont
• Pop. age 14 and under: 25.1 percent
The oil patch and agriculture have helped double the population of Piedmont to 6,779 since 1990. Prosperity has lowered the town’s poverty rate to about one-sixth the national rate. The town is northwest of Oklahoma City and within its metropolitan area. Oklahoma City’s Halloween attractions include the Lost Lakes Haunted Forest and the Sanctuary Haunted Attraction.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Sherwood
• Pop. age 14 and under: 27.0 percent
Sherwood, celebrating its 125th anniversary, is southwest of Portland. There are many spooky offerings around Portland, such as Fear Asylum Haunted House, Four Horsemen Haunted Attractions, Witch’s Castle, and Fearlandia.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Franklin Park
• Pop. age 14 and under: 22.5 percent
Franklin Park is in western Pennsylvania, 13 miles north of Pittsburgh. The town’s poverty rate is just 1.5 percent, well below the national poverty rate of 15.1 percent. Residents are lucky because they have many Halloween diversions nearby, such as Demon House, Freddy’s Haunts, Zombies of the Corn, and Haunted Hills Hayride.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Warwick
• Pop. age 14 and under: 14.4 percent
Warwick is one of the bigger towns on the list, with 81,881 residents. Among the options for Halloween revelers are the Factory of Terror Haunted House and Haunted Labyrinth in nearby Cranston, which calls itself “the longest running haunted house in New England.”
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Tega Cay
• Pop. age 14 and under: 24.7 percent
Tega Cay, Polynesian for “beautiful peninsula,’’ will hold its annual fall festival on Oct. 20. Tega Cay’s poverty rate is 0.9 percent, one of six towns with a poverty level under 1 percent on the list, and 16 percentage points below the state average of 17.2 percent.
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• Best town to trick-or-treat: Tea
• Pop. age 14 and under: 32.1 percent
In the town of Tea, 100 percent of the housing units are occupied, which is great news for trick-or-treaters. More than 32 percent of the town of 4,628 are children under the age of 14. There are many trick-or-treating events in and around this suburb of Sioux Falls, including the Old Courthouse Museum Halloween Party on Oct. 31.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Nolensville
• Pop. age 14 and under: 30.7 percent
Nolensville is a Nashville suburb, where more than 30 percent of the town’s 6,724 residents are under the age of 14. Over 98 percent of its housing units are occupied, and the poverty rate is 5.9 percent, much less than the national rate of 15.1 percent. Around Nolensville are several Halloween party and costume stores.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Randolph
• Pop. age 14 and under: 40.1 percent
There is an Air Force base in Randolph, and this municipality is one of three towns on our list whose population of children under 14 exceeds 40 percent. The base has hosted an annual Halloween event in the past.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Saratoga Springs
• Pop. age 14 and under: 41.7 percent
Saratoga Springs, Utah, has the highest percentage — 41.7 percent — of children under 14 on our list. Its population stands at 24,088. The kids plenty of homes to go trick-or-treating, since 99 percent of the housing units are occupied. There are plenty of Halloween-related options nearby, including the Strangling Brothers Utah Haunted Circus, Hee Haw Farms Corn Maze, and Cornbelly’s Corn Maze Pumpkin Fest.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: South Burlington
• Pop. age 14 and under: 14.6 percent
South Burlington has scheduled the Big Blue Express Halloween (not-so-scary) Train Ride for Oct. 26 through 28. Among the region’s Halloween attractions are Nightmare Vermont, a haunted house venue five miles northeast of the town in Essex, that will be open Oct. 18 through 20, and Oct. 25 through 27.
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• Best town to trick-or-treat: Fort Belvoir
• Pop. age 14 and under: 38.9 percent
Fort Belvoir has one of the higher percentages of children under 14 on our list at 38.9 percent, and one of the lower poverty rates, at 2.3 percent. Fort Belvoir, an Army base 23 miles south of Washington, D.C., also hosts the Legends of Halloween haunted house.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Snoqualmie
• Pop. age 14 and under: 32.7 percent
The percentage of children under 14 in Snoqualmie is rising and stands at 32.7 percent. The town’s poverty rate of 1.8 percent is well below the statewide rate of 12.7 percent. There are a few ghoulish choices for Halloween revelers within an hour’s drive of Snoqualmie, such as the Shadows Haunted House and the Georgetown Morgue Haunted House.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Charles Town
• Pop. age 14 and under: 26.2 percent
Trick-or-treaters can enjoy ghost and vampire tours through the historical part of this West Virginia town. Charles Town, 63 miles from Washington, D.C., is cited by such sources as NerdWallet as among the best towns in West Virginia for young families.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Barneveld
• Pop. age 14 and under: 29.0 percent
Halloween should be a bountiful time in Barneveld, which is about 32 miles west of the state capital of Madison. A house in Spring Green, some 12 miles from Barneveld, once owned by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is said to be haunted by the specter of a lady in white.
• Best town to trick-or-treat: Bar Nunn
• Pop. age 14 and under: 24.9 percent
Bar Nunn, near Casper, which is Wyoming’s second largest city, is a mile above sea level. One of the seasonal attractions in the region is Salt Creek Oil Field Ghost Lights, about 32 miles from Bar Nunn. These lights are said to be emitted from the lantern of a spirit named O’Rourke, who used to farm in the area, and allegedly still hovers about the field.
Detailed findings and methodology
Every trick-or-treater aspires to get to as many houses as possible and collect as much candy as they can before the night ends. Knocking on doors of empty homes, of course, is counterproductive. This is not the case for towns on our list. All but one city and town on this list has a housing occupancy rate higher than the 87.8 percent comparable rate nationwide. In 49 of the 50 best trick-or-treating towns, fewer than 1 in every 10 homes are vacant.
Americans facing serious financial hardship are less likely to have disposable income available to spend on holidays, including Halloween. In 43 of the 50 towns on this list, the poverty rate is less than half the comparable rate of 15.1 percent nationwide. Only five towns have an annual median household income below the national rate of $55,322. Just two of the best towns for trick-or-treating have a poverty rate that tops the comparable U.S. rate.
Halloween is primarily a celebration for young children, and towns with significant youth populations are more likely to participate in trick-or-treating. In 46 of the towns, at least one in every five residents is 14 years old or younger. In Saratoga Springs, Utah — the state’s best trick-or-treating town– nearly 41.7 percent of the population are 14 and younger, the largest share of any U.S. town.
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The safety of a town becomes even more important when children are masquerading as their favorite ghoul or superhero. As a result, towns with low crime rates are preferable on Halloween. Each town on this list for which data is available has a violent crime rate lower than the U.S. rate of 386 incidents for every 100,000 people.
The best towns for trick-or-treating tend to be relatively small. Thirty-nine towns on this list have fewer than 15,000 residents.
To identify the best town in each state for trick-or-treaters, 24/7 Wall Street created an index using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report. The index consists of four measures: rates for poverty, housing occupancy and violent crime, and the share of the population aged 14 and younger. All indexed ACS data are five-year estimates from the most recently available year. Population estimates are for 2016. Only cities and towns with population estimates within a 10 percent margin of error were considered. Violent crime was not factored in for towns in Hawaii due to insufficient data.
When the highest ranking city or town in a given state did not have at least one Halloween-themed business such as a costume store or haunted house within the surrounding county, the next highest ranking town with such establishments ranked as the best.
24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.