Halloween Mischief Night Preceded Trick or Treating
By the late 1800s, Hallow’s Eve had become a time for mischief-making. Some of the actions taken by young people were relatively harmless, such as soaping storefront windows or switching street or store signs, but the trouble-making often progressed to more damaging pranks such as opening gates so livestock got loose, tipping over outhouses, or even removing an exterior staircase from the outside of a building. In some cases there were physical assaults, and later on, organizations like the Ku Klux Klan used Halloween as an excuse to create trouble.
To counter this, schools and communities did the best they could to curb vandalism, usually by sponsoring various types of community parties or parades. In Anoka, Minnesota, (now referred to as the “Halloween Capital of the World”), community leaders established a community parade, and treats of popcorn, peanuts and candy were given to all who participated. After the parade, a huge bonfire was held in the town square. The event continues even today, and it has been held every year since 1920 (excepting 1942 and 1943 when it was cancelled because of World War II).
Elsewhere in the nation, the Boy Scouts organized safe events like school carnivals or sponsoring neighborhood outings for children to go trick or treating.