Trick or Treat

Normally the response to the phrase “trick or treat” is a treat, most often in the form of candy. Unfortunately, it seems that this year our younger residents are having a rotten trick played on them instead. COVID-19 is throwing a monkey wrench into one of the most fun nights of the year, Halloween (or Día de Los Muertos), just as it has done with so many other activities. Although trick-or-treating has not actually been outlawed in the Bay Area, because it would be difficult to do safely our local health officials are strongly discouraging it. Since it is still legal, be aware that there may be some trick-or-treaters out there come Halloween night. Thus, anyone who is out driving that evening should be extra careful, as I hope they always are on Halloween night. And if you are inclined to pass out candy, do consider how it can be done in the safest manner possible.

Our local health officers have produced a joint statement on the subject of Halloween; it is intended to help all of us who want to participate in Halloween do so as safely as possible. Their document provides some guidance on the relative safety of various activities, and in doing so actually has some good ideas for alternative, safe activities that can take the place of the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Although it is likely that in 2021 we’ll be able to resume our normal Halloween activities, you might even find an activity here that you’ll want to carry forward in the future. In any case, do take a look at their statement and take their guidance into consideration when planning your Halloween activities this year — whether you have young ones, or simply enjoy passing out candy.

On the subject of alternative Halloween ideas for the little ones, the Redwood City Parks & Arts Foundation is putting on an “@Home” edition of their Family Campout. Held on Saturday, October 24, this Family “Camp-In” will involve a number of Halloween-related activities that kids can enjoy. There will be crafts, contests (with prizes!) and a virtual campsite that campers can explore from the safety of their homes. I must admit, it sounds like fun! If I still had younger kids here at home I’d be signing them up. In any case, for more information, and a link to register, check out their website at

One Halloween-related activity that almost anyone can safely do is to decorate one’s home or place of employment. While walking through some of Redwood City’s residential neighborhoods last week and this, I stopped and admired quite a few Halloween decorations. As I like to do this time of year, I thought I’d share some of them with you. Before I do, though, I must mention that Redwood City’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department is holding its “1st Annual Halloween Home Decorating Contest.” Prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories — and of course winners have bragging rights! There is no entry fee, but you do need to fill out a short entry form that gives the city permission to take and display photographs of your decorated home (which can be a house, an apartment, a condo, a window — whatever, as long as it is located in Redwood City, Emerald Hills, or North Fair Oaks). The deadline for entry is next Friday, October 23, at 5 p.m., so don’t delay! Head over to the contest website, check the rules, and fill out the simple form. Then get decorating…

Getting to the homes I’ve been walking by, I’ll begin with one I get a good look at every year. This place is across from Stafford Park, and happens to be on my usual route when walking downtown. These folks clearly love the holiday, and love decorating:

One needn’t go so all out, however. Continuing down the street, the modern home that was recently completed on Hopkins Avenue has put up some simple, but very tasteful, Halloween decorations:

You might have to look closely to see them (click the above image to be able to zoom in on it) but note the flat black cats in both the planter bed and by the walkway leading to the home’s main entrance, and the witch standing below where that second story portion of the house juts out.

Graveyards always make popular Halloween decorations. Here is a nice, simple one:

Of course, there are the ever-popular inflatable decorations. Many of them seem to be on timers, and are not inflated during the day when I’m usually walking by. That’s a pity, since there are some terrific ones on people’s rooftops: large spiders and cats and things. This particular house in the Mount Carmel neighborhood, though, had a nice assortment of simple ones that all seemed to be inflated:

The decorations at the above house are pretty family friendly, and aren’t likely to scare any of the little ones. Some places, though, like to push the boundaries a bit, and create some a bit more forbidding. Like this place, over on Whipple Avenue:

Over on the “alphabet streets” (in the Centennial neighborhood, north of Whipple) there are some great displays. I really like this one:

Note the deflated decoration on the roof; I’m guessing that it is a black cat. But I really like the skeletons; they’re all smiling, and seem to be having a good time. They appear to be sitting in front of a campfire; I may have to go by some evening to see how this particular display is lit.

Near to the above is this place, which has a rather whimsical display of a skeleton on a swing:

They’ve also got one of those large spiderwebs made of rope with a large spider in it. Nice touch.

Finally, I didn’t walk to this one — it’s located in Menlo Park — but it contains one decorative element I’ve actually been keeping an eye out for but have yet to see in Redwood City: a giant skeleton. I’ve been seeing these giant skeletons advertised in various places, but haven’t seen one in person until I found this one on University Avenue in Menlo Park:

It may be hard to get an idea of the scale of this thing from the picture, but it appears to be around ten feet tall.

We still have two weeks before Halloween (it is on a Saturday this year) so I expect that a lot more decorations will pop up between now and then. I’ll keep an eye out for any particularly good ones, but if you know of any that you think I should see, let me know in the comments where they are. One of these days I just may take all the best ideas and go over the top decorating my own house. Especially now that there is a contest, where I could potentially get the recognition I undoubtedly would deserve…!

My wife and I passed by the giant skeleton while heading down to pick up the food for our weekly Meals on Wheels route. Because our route covers downtown Redwood City, we took advantage of the fact that we were going right by the County Center complex and dropped off our ballots. As I noted last week there are a couple of different places you can drop off your ballot — or, of course, you can simply mail it in — but we ended up going into the building at 555 County Center and putting our ballot into the secure bin they have there. It was fast, easy, and felt very safe. Over the next couple of days I plan to keep an eye on my ballot through San Mateo County’s ballot-tracking website; that way I’ll know for sure not only that my ballot was received, but that my vote was counted. If you, like me, want to be certain that your vote is properly counted, I do recommend dropping it off in one of the county’s convenient drop-boxes, and tracking it through the website.

While on our delivery route I noticed that the city has made a small change to the downtown street closures intended to benefit our local restaurants: Main Street between Middlefield Road and Stambaugh Street, which has been entirely closed for some time now, has been partially reopened. Traffic heading into downtown from Middlefield Road can now use Main Street again, although traffic coming out of downtown still must detour around this particular block of Main Street. There are a couple of restaurants along the east side of Main Street on that block, but it appears they weren’t taking much advantage of the street space, and thus the lane reopening. The city has, however, put concrete barriers in place to reserve the parking strip in front of those restaurants, so they still have the option for some outside dining. As for the west side of the street, it remains closed for a very good reason: Milagro’s has completely taken over the entire traffic lane by their restaurant, and seems to be doing a brisk business.

Speaking of restaurants, it seems that The BottleShop, at 2627 Broadway across from City Pub, is finally reopening! They’re having their soft opening on Saturday, October 17, from noon until 9:30 p.m., and are welcoming us back with a 10% discount on that day. Although The BottleShop is under new management, it appears from both looking in through the windows and from poking around their website that it may still be the cozy wine bar (with some food items) that my wife and I quickly grew to love. We’re both looking forward to giving it a try, and are hoping that it’ll resume being one of our “go-to” places for date night.

I should also note that Zareen’s, who is now serving up Pakistani and Indian cuisine from their latest location in downtown Redwood City, is having their official opening as I write this — on Friday, October 16. You’ll find them at 2039 Broadway, in downtown Redwood City. Their storefront opens wide, and they should have plenty of outside seating, especially given that they are located in one of the blocks of Broadway that has been completely closed to enable in-street dining. So if the idea of Pakistani/Indian dishes from a Michelin-rated restaurant sounds good to you, do check them out. And note that their food is available for takeout or for delivery through any number of delivery services: see their website for more information.

7 thoughts on “Trick or Treat

  1. Can’t wait to try Zareens. One more great new restaurant downtown is La Cocina de la Abuela near the tracks and Broadway. The best fish tacos I’ve ever had, and the other dishes are awesome. Very highly recommended. So glad to have another great option open up.

  2. We have really been enjoying the giant skeleton at the corner where Redwood becomes Fairview… you need to walk up in that direction!

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