By Heather Regula
The term “trick or treat” was coined about 100 years ago, but the history of trick-or-treating itself has roots much further back than that. It was a Celtic tradition to dress up as evil spirits to celebrate the end of the year. It was the belief of many that living souls and spirits of the dead mingled as we transition from one year to the next, allowing demons to roam. By dressing up as an evil spirit, many believed that the demons would recognize you as one of their own. The tradition of dressing up as an evil spirit morphed slightly when the Catholic Church started to recognize “All Hallow’s Eve” and believers dressed up as angels, saints, and demons.
The popularity of trick-or-treating took root in the United States during the 1920s, and sugar rations during World War II caused a decrease in celebrations. Nowadays, the tradition of trick-or-treating is a highly anticipated event.
Hundreds of people flooded downtown Belton for the annual Candy Trail, from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, October 28.
“I started The Candy Trail four years ago, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year! We have 32 businesses participating today. The goal is to bring kids and families downtown for something fun and safe,” explained event organizer Leila Valcher. “I love being able to bring more exposure to the businesses downtown. The Candy Trail has caught on, and it is so much fun to be part of it!”
Representatives from Oakfire Pizza and Brew were handing out candy, outside of their yet-to-be-opened restaurant on East Street.
“We have found that the local businesses in Belton are so friendly. Everyone is about community and giving back. It’s exciting to be a part of this community, so we decided to come out today and participate,” stated Brent Snyder, co-owner or Oakfire Pizza and Brew. “We are set to open in April-May 2018, and we will be featuring pizza made from scratch – nothing frozen and nothing fried!”
Families lined the sidewalks of the downtown area and patiently waited in lines as they made their way along the Candy Trail. Dressing up was a family affair for many. Sabring Pool and her children, Michael and Lilly, were sporting costumes as a Mario Family.
“This is the first time we have come to the Candy Trail. My kids think it’s so fun that we are dressed up as Mario characters,” said Pool.
Some businesses along the Candy Trail fully embraced the concept and decorated accordingly. Smoke machines, spooky music, and cobwebs added to the experience.
The Salon and Spa and Greenbriar is known for their theme approach to the event.
“We do a big theme every year. Last year it was Alice in Wonderland, and the year before it was Minions. Today, we are living out our Grease Theme,” explained Michelle Begley, salon owner. “Our employees dressed up as characters from the movie Grease, we have a car photo booth out front, and our salon is decked out with Grease things! We have been working all week on this, and it’s going well!”
The Salon and Spa at Greenbriar is participating in a breast cancer awareness fundraiser. For $10, clients can get an underarm lymph node detoxification treatment. All proceeds will benefit women who cannot afford mammograms.
Florence Hensley, of Killeen, and her family are recent transplants to Central Texas.
“We just moved here from Arizona, so we are happy to be out exploring this area. This event is very well organized and everyone is having a great time,” remarked Hensley.
Eighteen-month-old Emma Rose Snowden, of Nolanville, made her Candy Trail debut as a unicorn. Her parents, Madison Martinez and Chad Snowden, accompanied her.
“Last year, Emma Rose was too young to attend, so we didn’t attend. She is enjoying herself today, and she loves her unicorn costume! When we come here for next year’s Candy Trail, Emma Rose will be a big sister as I am expecting,” exclaimed Martinez.
The Candy Trail was free for the participating businesses and attendees and serves as a great example of the sense of community for which Belton is known. Downtown Belton has so much to offer, and the stores are united in their efforts to make it a great place to be.