“This isn’t the actual street,” a woman pushing a stroller says into her phone. “The actual street is insane!” The actual street is Garden Place, a one-block stretch in Brooklyn Heights where thousands of kids descend every Halloween to collect candy from $10 million townhouses made up to look like a mummy’s tomb. By 4:30 p.m., it’s already mobbed with magicians, fairies, and more than a few miniature Kens.
“It’s just getting started,” says Barbara Zimmerman, who has given out candy on the block for 36 years. (Her perennial costume, she tells me, is “The Graduate.”) She goes to Costco to prepare and estimates she has about 3,000 Twix bars and bags of Skittles to give out this year. This is part of the reputation: No dusty Smarties, premium candy only. Neighboring blocks, I’m told, can run through hundreds of dollars worth of candy based on proximity to Garden Place alone.
The mood is frenzied. I watch as the people passing out candy try to limit the hoards of trick-or-treaters to one piece each, but kids are industrious. One in a black bodysuit who tells me he is dressed as “nothing” brags that if a bowl is left unattended, he’ll grab “20 pieces.” Luca Maltese, a 10-year-old who is dressed as Tom Cruise in Top Gun and is hanging out in the middle of the street with his dad (who is wearing a hat and dressed as “Tom Cruise’s sidekick”), comes from neighboring Cobble Hill to get the good stuff. “The best houses are the ones with the most decorations,” Maltese tells me, adding that he plans to stay out “until every house is closed.” (Another draw for parents is that the street is blocked off from cars for the night.)
Zimmerman, still passing out candy with a group of friends, says that the night ends when all the bags are empty. When I ask her if this is the best block in the city to go trick-or-treating she looks at me with a hard-earned weariness: “Please don’t advertise that.”