OK, time for full disclosure – I’m not a football fan.
I’m not a big sports fan in general, though I do love hockey and have been known to get pretty worked up over basketball.
But football? I just don’t get it.
What I do get is the community culture that surrounds high school sports. I grew up in a small town without a football program – which may be the root of my antipathy – where high school basketball was the local religion. I remember the thrill of “going to the game,” which involved so much more than watching the team – it was about seeing everyone you know, hanging out eating too-salty popcorn between periods, chanting with the cheerleaders and singing with the band.
British actor Stephen Fry once did a documentary miniseries in which he toured the United States, experiencing American culture from a British point of view. In one segment, he attended a college football game and though, like me, he didn’t get the game, he was blown away by the experience. The event, he said, was loud and gaudy and over the top and completely American, and he absolutely loved it.
Unlike Mr. Fry and me, Doug Oleson does get football, and he also gets the way the high school football season can be a sort of anchor for community life.
In addition to football season, October is the season of Halloween, something I most definitely do get. It might just be my favorite holiday. The costumes, the pumpkins, black-and-white monster movies on TV and ghost stories around the fire – I only wish it lasted longer.
Though I still love dressing up for Halloween, I’ve more or less passed that torch on to my children. This year, I have an easy plan to get in on the fun using stuff from around the house. My oldest boy has a “beard hat” in the costume box in his playroom – it’s a crocheted beard attached to a stocking cap – and I think I might borrow it for a take on a hairy-faced lumberjack. Halloween gender bending is generally fun, and at least it will keep my face warm while we’re out trick-or-treating.
According to people who track these things, the most popular costume for women this year, like most years, is a witch. (Yeah, I’ve done that one too.) Men most often dress as vampires, and the little costumes you’ll see walking up to your door most often Halloween night are princesses and Batman.
You can find some more specifics on Halloween trends – including how much the average person spends on the spooky holiday – in our story under the Business tab on our home page.
And of course, October in Sycamore means, above all else, the Pumpkin Festival. Just in time for this year’s fest, local author Tom Oestreicher has released a biography of Mr. Pumpkin, Wally Thurow, and a history of the festival he founded more than 50 years ago.
Enjoy your MidWeek.