"It might be a bit off from peak years," long-time Vermont Avenue resident Martha Hungerford said, "but it looks to me like there are more little kids. I would say about 1,000 or so." Hungerford and her daughter, Brenda Ploss, have lived on Vermont for 31 years and have seen it all. "Costumes you would not believe, kids from all over," said Ploss.
A few doors down, Steph Monson and Darren Dahl were dispensing candy near a very life-like witch, which made noises and moved when you got near. Fog and weird lights completed the eerie effect. Lots of kids thought the witch was real, and jumped when it moved. A few years ago, homeowner Colin Sheehan ran out of candy and handed out frozen corn. He was dressed like a head-injured patient. Sheehan said, "A lot of the kids looked at me like I was a real head injury, and weren't sure if they should take the corn. It was all I had left. It is work, but I love to do it."
Across the street, Bruce Ingle was in a very creepy clown mask fighting off the teenaged double dippers. "Get out of here, I know you!" he said to one older goblin. "I seen you here twice. Don't even try the double-dip thing, I invented it," he said with a wink, and quietly said, "I don't care [if they get more candy], but the kids like it when I yell at them." While buying candy, bag after bag of it, earlier in the day, Ingle garnered some attention. A woman in line asked what he needed so much for. He told her about Vermont Avenue; she took several of the bags from his cart and bought them for him.
At another house, a man just appeared and set several large bags of candy on the porch, waved and walked off.
All up and down Vermont, and spilling over onto Olney and Russell Streets, the sidewalks were full on this All Hallows Eve. The Asheville Police Department was there passing out stickers to kids, and keeping the blue lights on to calm traffic. There has never been a bad incident on Vermont, and everyone's hope is that it will stay that way for years to come —now people who grew up with this West Asheville tradition have kids and even grand-kids walking the tree-lined street.
photos and story by Bill Rhodes
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