Crowds, big and not so big

To no one’s surprise, our readers chose RiverFest as the best city-wide event in our annual Best of the Best balloting. It wins every year, and this one followed the pattern.

I guess I wasn’t really supposed to tell you that, because the results won’t be made public until the special section appears in the Gazette this Friday.
But I needed an idea for a column and what finished second was interesting, at least to me. It was citywide trick-or-treating on Halloween.
It’s a real contrast. RiverFest requires lots of planning, work and money to make it the big regional event that it has become. Halloween trick-or-treating just seems to happen.
And, golly, does it happen! My wife Jenny says it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that trick-or-treating on Halloween got so many votes. People in New Albany take it seriously.
As our first Halloween in New Albany approached three years ago, neighbors told us to expect a lot of children to trick or treat in the neighborhood. Be prepared for several hundred, they said.
We were shocked because we had come from a neighborhood in Florence, Ala., where a dozen costumed children was considered a good turnout.
So we bought what we thought was a lot of candy, but we ran out before time to turn out the porch light.
Last year, we sat out on the front porch so we wouldn’t have to keep opening and closing the door. But the porch got so crowded that a couple of kids fell off into our front flower beds. By the time the evening was over, we had given out 900 pieces of candy. (Well, maybe not quite that much; a little of it might have gotten sidetracked into our stomachs.)
Anyhow, this year Jenny has a new game plan. We’re going to sit out on the driveway with our candy bowl so children don’t have to climb the steps to the front porch. We’ve already stocked up with enough candy for 900 kids.
We’re prepared. Bring on the crowd.
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Speaking of crowds, the one at the last regular-season home New Albany football game was disappointing.
I had told Jenny that we needed to go early because it was senior night and because the Bulldogs were playing their nemesis, the two-time state champion Lafayette Commodores. She gave me that look – the you-always-insist-on-going-too-early-to-everything look – but gave in.
When we got to the parking lot, it was mostly empty.  We got our cheeseburgers, chips and drinks and made our way to the stands; they were mostly empty. They were only about half full when the senior band members, cheerleaders, football players and their parents walked onto the field to be honored.
There were still plenty of empty seats when the game got under way.  It was perhaps the smallest crowd of the season for the biggest game.
And what a game it was! New Albany won in overtime, 10-7. The team has now won its division and will have a home playoff game Nov. 2.
I think I’ll tell Jenny we’d better go early if we want to get a seat.
Maybe not.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at