I've lived in San Francisco for over 10 years, and every Halloween I buy a big bag of mini candy bars, and load a bowl up to keep next to my front door in the chance that a trick-or-treater may show up.
None ever have.
Disregarding how pathetic it is that I still pretend those mini candy bars are for anyone but me, I really do want to know why I've never seen a trick-or-treater. True, I live in an apartment building, so maybe kids have tried to get in, but I can assure you my buzzer has never rung!
Is trick-or-treating even a thing San Francisco kids do? Did you trick or treat as a kid? If so, where did you go?
Save Me From This Candy
You're not the only person wondering about this! Though a certain website has regularly claimed that SF is the best city in the country for trick-or-treating (though we slipped to second this year), as Jay said in 2014, "trick-or-treaters are about as rare a sight in most places around town as koalas."
When I was a kid, I was an avid trick-or-treater, way past the age where it would be considered appropriate. (I think I finally stopped about sophomore year in high school.) I lived in the Mission, in a Victorian flat, until about 1980, and there were plenty of similarly-sized houses to visit in our neighborhood. But when we moved to an apartment on Potrero Hill, it became a little trickier. We'd usually pass by the bigger apartment buildings and stick to two-story flats or single family homes.
When I got a little older, (again, too old to be trick-or-treating), friends and I would take the bus out to St. Francis Wood, or other "rich" neighborhoods, under the impression that the one percenters would be giving out better candy than they were in our hoods. But the truth is, they didn't! Our bags weren't filled with full size candy bars by the end of the night, just your usual "fun sized" treats, and way more Sweettarts than anyone would ever really want.
I've lived in the same apartment building for over 20 years, and I, too, have never had any trick-or-treating kids wander the halls, knocking on doors. The closest I ever got was some teenagers dressed in black who somehow got inside the building, and pounded on doors demanding candy, but I don't think anyone was dumb enough to fall for that. I know I wasn't, and kept my lights off and door firmly closed.
I live on Nob Hill, in an area that is primarily apartment buildings, which is always tough for trick-or-treating. But there was a time, about 15 years ago, when our local store, Le Beau, would help put together a neighborhood map of all the homes that would be welcoming visits on Halloween night. I took a cousin, who also lived in the neighborhood, trick-or-treating using that map, and we did that for at least two Halloweens. It was a great idea, but they stopped doing it a number of years ago. I guess all the kids grew up and none took their place?
I don't have kids myself, but I imagine the same holds true now. Apartment buildings are just kind of intimidating. A house will usually have a jack o'lantern and decorations outside, letting you know it's OK to ring that doorbell, while an apartment building just seems to promise a lot of rejection.
But, you could always tape a sign outside your building that says "Kids Welcome! Candy inside!" Problem is, you might get a visit from the SFPD SVU squad before you saw an actual trick-or-treater.
Any parents want to clue us into how you handle trick-or-treating if you live in a predominantly apartment building-filled area? Do you take the kids elsewhere? Arrange some kind of neighborhood crawl? Or withhold candy altogether in favor of kale chips and carob bars?
Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!