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Opinion: Timely Halloween costumes

Children wear face masks to protect them during the pandemic while trick-or-treating on Halloween night in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 31, 2020.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Children wear face masks to protect them during the pandemic while trick-or-treating on Halloween night in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 31, 2020.

This weekend is Halloween. Sidewalks will teem with young trick-or-treaters, dressed as demons, ghosts and monsters. But this year, do we really need more reasons to shriek?

Now that they are older, our daughters have confided that they're sure I have always enjoyed Halloween more than they do. I used to encourage them to go trick-or-treating dressed as Angela Merkel and Malala Yousafzai. They preferred to be princesses, pirates or cats. Their haul of candy confirmed their wisdom.

What might we see on the streets this year?

There may be red-suited Squid Game players, Minecraft Chicken Jockeys and small Bernie Sanders, reaching for candy with mittened hands. There could be TikTok influencers, whose dances may be hard to remember by next Halloween, and bearded children toting toy pianos who say, "I'm BJ Leiderman, who writes the Weekend Edition theme music!" I'm not sure if they'll get candy or rocks.

I wonder if this year we'll see some trick-or-treaters on the streets dressed in suit jackets over sweatpants and slippers. When adults open their doors, the kids could move their lips to mouth, "Trick or treat!" When people ask, "Did you say something?" they could say, "Oh, sorry! We were on mute."

We might see children dressed as flight attendants bearing rolls of duct tape, ready to deal with any swearing, belligerent passengers who refuse to wear masks.

Some might wear a number 10 on red and blue stripes, to play at being Carli Lloyd, who closed out her career on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team this week after 316 games and two World Cup titles.

Trick-or-treaters could perch toothpicks in their mouths — carefully — to look like Astros Manager Dusty Baker, back in the World Series at the age of what he calls, "a cool 72," a manager who believes experience can succeed where analytics run out.

Some youngsters could wear white pharmacist's coats and brandish toilet-paper rolls painted to look like fat syringes. "Trick or treat!" they could say. "Here's your booster shot!"

Last year, a lot of trick-or-treating was lost to necessary precautions that kept kids away from each other, and adults from opening the door to ghosts, ghouls and super-creatures.

But this Halloween, so many Americans are vaccinated, and soon, school-age children may be too. It will be good to hear all those small-knuckled knocks again, and to open the door to scream, laugh and fill their buckets.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.