Halloween in Minnesota is different than Halloween in other places. While trick-or-treaters in Texas or Tennessee enjoy balmy Indian summer days followed by crisp fall nights, Minnesotan kids don parkas, mittens and scarves over their costumes, or risk frostbite. Forget being a princess or fairy.
So, when I was 10, it was no surprise to me that my cheerleader costume would include long johns instead of tights, mittens instead of pom-poms, and fur-lined snow boots instead of sneakers; this wasn’t my first Minnesota Halloween. Even when the snow began to fall early in the evening, my sisters and I thought nothing of it, lured by the prospect of candy by the bucketful.
By nightfall, the snow had not let up. In fact, the sky was so thick with flakes that, when set aglow by streetlamps, fellow trick-or-treaters were all but obscured. As the snow collected on the sidewalks in heaps, we summoned our parents and took to cars. The neighborhood had become a battlefield: we were warriors determined to reap the spoils despite nature’s assault! Cars crawled along the streets, coming to cautious stops in front of house after house to let us little goblins and ghosts collect from the annual candy smorgasbord and trudge back.
Entering a warm home after a cold, northern night has to be the most pleasing of creature comforts. Off came our parkas, mittens, scarves and boots-all soaking wet-and on went our slippers and pajamas, not for bed, but for the divvying of loot. As we overturned our buckets and made the most scrupulous trades and bargains, we felt a sense of satisfaction. For taking on the elements and coming out on top, we felt victorious.
After a blizzard, there is no color; everything turns to black and white. Black tree limbs are dusted white, black rooftops are padded with pristine piles of snow. There is no sound after a blizzard, either. All is muffled under a puffy, pale blanket. When we awoke on All Saints Day, this is the world that greeted us. No Minnesotan kid will ever forget that Halloween.
Historians would not forget it either. The year was 1991. Now known as the Halloween Blizzard, the three feet of snow that accumulated that evening still holds the record for the most in any October.