According to a study, Detroit is 98th on a list of 100 of America's "Best and Worst Cities for Halloween."
Like a lot of these "studies," this one is total crap. It's from WalletHub, based upon an arbitrary list of factors, ranging from crime rate to percentage of children 14 and under. Other considerations included how expensive tickets were to Halloween parties (which, presumably, is a strike against Detroit's Theatre Bizarre), how many costume stores a city has, the amount of candy stores, and weather.
But where Detroit really got hit is for the "safety and surroundings" category, which is based on much more than the crime rate: It takes into account the percentage of occupied housing units, walkability, the pedestrian fatality rate, and population density. (Population density? So, like, is that how New York, N.Y., wound up at the top of the heap? Does your classic vision of trick-or-treating involve going door-to-door in an apartment building?)
OK, fine! We get it. Detroit isn't a Sacramento soccer mom's idea of a Halloween candyland. As the study points out, "Detroit’s violent crime is 40 times higher than Irvine, Calif., the city with the lowest crime rate." Yeah, sure. Crime is a major concern for parents squiring around a clutch of costumed toddlers. But seriously? The worst?
Bullshit. This is America, Jack. People in tougher neighborhoods are more cautious, and they still find ways to get into costume and fill their candy sacks. And besides, shouldn't there be a little bit of fear in the holiday? It's fucking Halloween, ferchrissakes. Does your ideal trick-or-treating involve no fear greater than gluten content and peanut allergies? How sheltered and soft do you want today's kids to be? By the study's metrics, the very best place for Halloween (jammed with kids, costumes, candy, walkable, with low crime) would be goddamn Disney World, the fakest fucking place on earth!
It just goes to show you, you can assemble a list of the qualities you'd like to see in Halloween and completely miss what you're looking for. Because there is no other city that loves Halloween like Detroit does. Throw in the region, and you have the most loyal adherents and supporters of Halloween on the continent. It's a seasonal industry here in Detroit, unlike any other place in the world.
What city has Halloween just at the peak of autumn, when fall color segues into bare branches and blustery nights filled with windblown leaves? What city is mostly composed of single-family homes and therefore perfect for door-to-door trick-or-treating? What city can boast three TV horror emcees: The Ghoul, Count Scary, and Sir Graves Ghastly, not to mention the hostless "Creature Feature" and "Thriller Double Feature"? What city made Devil's Night a household word? What city gave the world a creepy crop of musicians ranging from Alice Cooper to ICP, and from Country Bob & the Blood Farmers to the 3-D Invisibles? What city of its size has three — count 'em, three — freaking hearse clubs?
Don't just take our word for it. This week, we spoke with Shane Michael Fekete, who moved to Detroit from Bay City to be nearer the fantasy factory that is metro Detroit in the fall: He works not just at Erebus, but at Theatre Bizarre. He told us, "Up north, individual people will get involved in Halloween. But in Detroit, it's like the whole area seems to get into it, with more haunted houses, more decorated houses. It is a bigger thing down in this area."
Of course, national polls don't minutely examine the culture, music, folkways, and total awesomeness of a place. Detroit among the worst cities for Halloween? Only a bunch of experts focused on minute details could arrive at a conclusion this preposterous.