*Updated, with new info on the bottom…
Floral Park imagines itself as an oasis of tranquility in SanTana, a respite from the city's gritty reality. Really, this neighborhood–roughly bordered by Bristol to the west, 17th Street to the South, Broadway to the east, and Memory Lane in the north–is a neighborhood built on apartheid. Need proof? There's a house in Floral Park with “TARA” on its front gate, for chrissakes, and direct access is blocked if you're coming north from the rest of the city. Need more substantial proof? Take what happened yesterday, and what's been happening every Halloween in the neighborhood for years.
Last evening, hundreds of Mexican kids descended upon Floral Park to partake in a richer neighborhood's ostensibly better candies, a tradition followed by American kids for decades. Dressed up as Darth Vader, as princesses, or ghosts, they walked in virtual darkness. At least three-quarters of the Floral Park homes had their lights off, and the number was probably bigger than that. That's because the Mothers of Floral Park group held the neighborhood's official trick-or-treat last Saturday.
A Floral Park resident that requested anonymity for the obvious reason argued that the neighborhood was simply tired of cleaning up after the hordes. “They're not even from the neighborhood, but they drop their trash all over the place–and we have to clean up after them,” she argued. “It's better to let our kids celebrate it on another day. It's not a racial thing.”
HA. Have you ever seen a spic-'n'-span neighborhood after Halloween? Candy tends to create littering, y'know. Besides, Halloween is supposed to be America's great unifying holiday, a bona fide celebration not based on any religion or ethnic group but on getting everyone together.
Granted, not all of Floral Park's houses participated in yesterday's sugar segregation. Some houses featured elaborate displays, drawing oohs and aahs from everyone. Other people stood outside their driveways, gladly giving out candy while not allowing folks onto their property. But they were in the definite minority.
“That's messed up,” said Gilberto Rodriguez, who was accompanying his small children–one in a Dora the Explorer backpack and mask, another in mini-doctor's scrubs. Rodriguez lives in an apartment and came to Floral Park because of its safety. “We're just here to have fun, but most of the houses are closed.”
The children–gorging on what looked like Tootsie Rolls in the darkness–had no comment.
Oh, and the estate of Don Papi Pulido? As dark as his soul.
*UPDATE: From a reader comment below…
If it's any (non)consolation, Floral Park has been trying to keep it a “white” Halloween since before Gustavo was born.
When I was in grade school (late '70s-early '80s), the neighborhood “association” (it wasn't official in those days – nor was the neighborhood called Floral Park – we were just “North Santa Ana') completely shut down Halloween (especially on Flower street, where we lived) because if the neighbors couldn't keep the Mexican kids out, they weren't going to give out candy, period.
The neighbors claimed (and still do, to this day) that to take their candy, you had to live in their neighborhood.
So, all of us who wanted to trick-or-treat had to go to North Tustin. My parents still don't see the irony.