Des Moines, Iowa residents are gearing up for another year of their unique Halloween tradition known as Beggars’ Night. A tradition residents celebrate on October 30th each year in lieu of the typical festivities observed by most of the country on October 31st. The city and surrounding areas have spent the last 80 years putting a twist on the candy fueled fun by creating a tradition that’s as unique as the people who call this place home.
Google “Des Moines Beggars’ Night” and you’ll find a tale of juvenile vandalism and destruction in the city’s center in the 1930’s. As a result, city officials voted to change the tradition in hopes of putting an end to the rule breaking, and so, Beggars’ Night was born. A tradition that takes place on October 30th and asks kids to tell a riddle or do a trick in order to earn their candy.
Most residents think the tradition was born as a way to not only cut down on the vandalism but to also allow parents to join in on the fun. Kirsten, a mom of two and a Johnston resident stated “Beggars’ Night is a family affair – the entire family goes out together which means parents are able to celebrate with other locals on Halloween itself. It’s the best of both worlds for parents”.
Major retailers in the area use the tradition to stock shelves early. Target, Walmart, Hy-Vee, CVS and Walgreens all put out candy prior to October 1st when most of the country begins stocking their shelves. They also tend to have more merchandise on hand as some rebel suburbs still celebrate on the 31st. This means that DSM residents actually tend to buy more candy than others in the U.S. as they may celebrate in their own town on the 30th and then partake in the festivities on Halloween as well. Double the candy for double the fun.
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