Trick or Treat training?

I took a walk out through some local woods the other day. It was one of those perfect early Autumn afternoons. As I pushed through a stand of thick and tangled vines and other nuisance growth, I found myself overlooking a mid-sized, fenced-in area which looked a lot like a military training camp of some sort.

With all the turmoil going on all over the world, I quickly hid behind some brush where I could get a look at the camp.

I watched as a woman in the old-style army O.D. green uniform walked to the middle of the compound and set a drill instructor hat onto her head. She blew a long blast on a whistle and suddenly a group of women poured out of one barracks while a herd of kids poured out of another.

The women formed ranks to the drill instructor's left while the kids formed to the right.

"Good gravy," I thought. "A terrorist training camp here? Women and children? What evil is this?"

The drill instructor answered my question as she addressed the ranks.

"All right you bunch of rabble shut your pie holes and listen up," the D.I. shouted. "Welcome to Trick or Treat Training Camp!"

Trick or Treat Training Camp? It's been a few years since I put on my pirate costume and Trick or Treated where I grew up in "Glass Pack Muffler Hollow," but what need could there be for a training camp? You get dressed up, travel to a few homes of neighbors, friends and family and you go home. What tricking and treating lessons require a training camp? I was about to find out.

The D.I. summoned the camp "intelligence officer." A loud "hoo-rah" went up when it was announced when Clarion Borough will hold its Trick or Treat hours on Halloween.

"Our spies tell us some people in other communities are upset about that," the intel officer shouted. "Tough Tootsie Rolls! That allows you to really hit those little communities that dare hold Trick or Treat hours the day before Halloween! With tactical planning and combat driving skills you can hit at least two and with hard work three or four communities and fill those candy sacks over and over again!"

There was a lot of high-fiving among the adult women ranks while the kids shouted "more, more, more we want more!"

The intel officer shouted out a list of businesses and civic organizations hosting Halloween parties. "It doesn't matter if you shop there!" shouted the intel officer. "It doesn't matter if you support the fire departments, the churches, the clubs or not it's FREE candy! Go! Grab! Get out!"

"Go! Grab! Get out!" the ranks shouted in unison.

The D.I. stepped forward. "All right those of you who earned your ‘Push, Shove and Grab Parade Candy Certification' at ALF, adults and children, can move on to mapping and ‘quick-change-costume and repeat route' training. If you don't have your PSG certification, line up behind me move it, move it."

I managed to get myself a little more comfortable and watched as "Push, Shove and Grab Parade Candy Certification" started.

"Get in your team attack formations," ordered the D.I. "Mothers behind your kids, kids in crouch and pounce position! Trainers in front of the kids!"

There were two trainers in front of each kid when the D.I. threw a handful of Bubba-Wubba gum in their direction. A man on a lawn tractor towed a mock-up fire truck next to the gum as the kids dashed for the treats. The trainers attempted to hold the kids back.

"C'mon moms!" shouted the D.I. "Swing your butt to the left and knock that trainer under the wheels of that fire truck! Toss that kid over the other trainer! Move it! Move it! That gum's worth a penny a piece!"

The exercise was repeated again and again. "Now let me hear you beg!" shouted the D.I. "Give me your best ‘Gimme gimme!' Shove that little kid out of your way! Moms! Grab that piece of gum your kid missed before somebody else grabs it! Move it! Move it!"

I eased down the hill and found a spot from which I could see an open pavilion where the mapping seminar was being conducted. This was, apparently, for moms only as the instructor was speaking to a gathering of adults.

"Sligo or Rimersburg, it doesn't matter. Just be in one or the other at start knocking on doors at 5:45 p.m., yes, it's few minutes early, but nobody is going to turn you away," the instructor was saying. "Approach the door in line, get the candy, turn and go, no time for small talk or thank yous, keep the line moving and you get to more homes. Moms, don't forget to ask for candy for ‘Little Billy,' who is at home sick (the instructor winked). If you child is too young to walk, carry them with a candy bag dangling from his or her foot.

"Stay in town, knocking on doors until 6:45 p.m., have dad follow you around in the car, get out of one town and burn rubber to the other. Repeat the process."

The instructor continued, "Now you Knox and Shippenville people, again, get the two-town attack and Pete's sake, find out when Paint Township has Trick or Treat and hit, hit, hit Marianne that's where the rich people live. Don't worry about Lamartine, it's too far out and will cost you precious time and the people there are cheap they unwrap ‘Smarties' and hand them out as individual candies."

The instructor flipped the pages on her chart and continued, "OK, Strattanville hit the fire department first, grab, grab, grab you have to be fast. Strattanville will get hit hard and fast by Clarion. Remember, all the Clarion kids will have already drained their hometown. Knock those polite Strattanville kids right out of the way. They snooze they lose.

"Above all, remember, you are entitled to the candy. Mom, make sure you watch what goes in those candy sacks, make sure it's equal for all. Don't feel bad if you have to shoot that homeowner a dirty look or give a sarcastic ‘Gee, thanks, Mr. Generous.'

"And don't forget, Mom, dump your kids' candy sack frequently. You want those homeowners to think Little Johnny just got started or hasn't had much luck."

The trainer continued, "And for Pete's sake, get on the phone and the Internet and find out when and where Trick or Treat is being held. Remember, greed is good!"

I eased my way out of sight from the camp and sat down. Trick of Treat sure has changed.

I decided to get out of there and head home. But first I had to stop and buy a single roll of "Smarties."

The author is the editor of the CLARION NEWS.

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