Fairfield does Halloween well. That has been the case for as long as most of us can remember. But those who remember 2019 will know that it is possible to do these things too well. After several years of putting on a pretty good show and gradually drawing bigger crowds through word of mouth, by 2018 word had reached local media outlets – including HitchinTV, whose video from that year showing ‘Boonel Walk’ in all its glory can be seen at this link: https://www.hitchintv.co.uk/portfolio/halloween-on-brunel-walk/
There’s no denying it was glorious, and we basked in the attention. But the following year, the whole world descended. It was estimated that there were more than 1,000 additional vehicles on our roads on the evening of 31 October 2019 – and our roads struggle at the best of times. There was gridlock for hours on end, residents couldn’t get home, drivers became frustrated and careless, parents feared for their children’s safety, grass verges were churned up and paths blocked by irresponsible parking, Brunel Walk was filled with heaving crowds and all but impassable, numerous residents ran out of treats (in spite of having bought in kilos upon kilos of them) and had to close up early, and, most importantly, children were reporting that it wasn’t much fun.
Roll forward to this year. After the choas of 2019 followed by two years in which spooky season had effectively been cancelled by Covid, nobody was quite sure what to expect in 2022. There was a chance that people had forgotten all about it, wasn’t there? There was hope of a quiet local celebration – until local magazine Living Life published a very complimentary article last month reminding everyone how well we do Halloween in Fairfield, which it was feared had advertised to 16,000+ homes across a large chunk of Central Bedfordshire that this was the place to be this year, with a link to that video.
That spooked us. Even more people would come, it was sure to be a disaster… lots of the houses in Brunel Walk had changed hands since October 2018, several of the people in the video had moved away; there wouldn’t even be a show for all the people who would come! Several residents complained, prompting an apology from Living Life, but unfortunately there wasn’t time for a printed retraction. Fairfield Parish Council went into damage control mode, placing a banner at the entrance to Fairfield Park announcing that there were no events planned, which they hoped would act as a deterrent, and repeating the same message across social media… and we waited to see what would happen.
In the end, there were a few big groups who had obviously driven in, but not enough of them to cause any real problems. A sprinkling of rain helped to prevent people from lingering too long and crowds building up, but wasn’t enough to put a dampener on the evening. There were plenty of people out and about, and a good atmosphere on the streets. Aside from a few reports of older children taking advantage of bowls of sweets left outside houses by helping themselves to more than the intended one each, the word was that all the trick or treaters were very polite and the whole event was a lot of fun. Admittedly there were quite a few irritated people in cars stuck around Tesco, but only for about half an hour – which, let’s face it, was not as bad as we had expected. We’ve often seen the like when school pickup time coincides with a Tesco delivery.
Speaking of Tesco, they made the bold decision to leave the eggs on the shelves, running the risk that they would get into the wrong hands – but that didn’t happen. That’s how pleasant it all was. No tricks, plenty of treats, and even some leftovers.
Brunel Walk, the centre of Fairfield’s Halloween celebrations for as long as anyone can remember, put on a good show for Fairfield’s children as always. The street-wide decorations were gone, and with them the crowds, but several individual houses were decorated and accepting trick or treaters, as were many others across Fairfield. By all accounts this was a positive change. There’s just something about ringing the doorbell and saying ‘trick or treat’ that is a bit more special than joining a queue of people to retrieve a sweet from a bowl.