Who Is Killing Halloween?

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Halloween is an excellent time to take the pulse of a community. You can really tell your neighborhood’s age and spirit by the volume of candy in a bowl by your door.

To monitor it you could do some fancy statistical analysis or you could just look at two hashtags on Twitter. #kidcount and #yyc are the tags people are using to track trick or treaters in their communities around Calgary.


Many are talking about few if any kids coming around.

@MalloryEvasiuk wonders where all the trick-or-treaters are in #yyc i remember as a kid mom would count 300+ kids per year i have had 10 #sad #morecandy4me

@TSG36 I had a total of 3 kids this year-3 more than last yr…where are all the trick or treaters in New Brighton?! #kidcount #Halloween2011 #yyc

@DarciBrianne Only 41 kids tonight. Thats depressing considering we used to get about 150-200. =( #yyc #kidcount #shawnessy

@JenFuchs Next kid that comes gets the rest of the bowl! #kidcount #yyc

I had a blast walking the 4 blocks around our neighborhood with my son tonight. I stood at the sidewalk chatting with other parents, laughing and smiling at the kids and their costumes.

I soaked in the enthusiasm of youth and bathed in the politeness of my boy saying “Thank you! Happy Halloween!” to each neighbour and then bounding down the driveway announcing “Daddy, I got more candy!” as if it was some biblical breaking of bread and fish that was producing his bounty.

@Pistachio we fell in with a crew of 5 neighbor kids and 2 other parents and our posse of 10 had a grand time going door-to-door and chatting.

That’s what this night is supposed to be about. The normal quiet streets of suburbia bursting at the seams with giggles, sharing and small talk.

Then you scroll the hashtags and you find that this neighborly enthusiasm wasn’t a city-wide event. Then you see what the schools are doing by discouraging kids to dress up and you see the spirit of the season start to fade. Not everyone was on the streets mingling.

Kiri W wrote a great post today with 7 reasons why you should take your kids out.

Halloween is one of the only times in the year that it’s normal to knock on the door of an unknown person, have that person happily open the door, have a bit of a conversation and leave with everyone feeling good about it.

Shopping centres host trick-or-treating events because it gets a prime demographic through the doors to spend a couple hours window-shopping. They’re billed as “safe” alternatives, giving the false impression that neighbourhood trick-or-treating somehow isn’t safe. Taking your kids to the mall instead of exploring your neighbourhood sends your kids the message that commercial entities are preferred (more trusted?) than people down your street. [source]

It’s all about breathing life into the community and sharing a festival with friends and strangers alike.

I wonder why the numbers are shrinking? Stats Canada says the population of trickers and treaters (5-14) is dwindling in the country, but I live in a community surrounded by 3 schools 5 playgrounds and the houses are less than 8 years old. This is a “young family community.”

If you took your kids to the mall for Halloween, you’re part of the problem. Stop being afraid that something bad is going to happen. There were dozens of us on the streets having fun tonight. It should have been hundreds.

What was your kid count? Who do you think is killing Halloween?

An Open Letter To Occupy Calgary

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We’re 6 weeks into the occupy movement across the first world. What started as a visual call to arms in Adbusters has turned into a series of campsites, microcommunities and protests in public places around the world.

Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, Calgary and more are dealing with groups of protestors living in public places making a variety of demands. The core message: things need to change. How things need to change is up for debate.


Dear Occupiers,

When a union goes on strike, we know what they want. Better pensions, shorter hours, safer working conditions, job security, more benefits, etc. There is a point of negotiation from the employer and the union and there is a middle ground that can be arrived at, eventually.

I’m struggling to see the endgame for your movement.

I asked Xeni Jardin of boing boing and one of Twitter’s most frenetic retweeters of posts related to #occupy what the end game is. She’s confused too.

@xeni: “the fascinating part is that none of us know. It’s a social movement, not a political party or a platform. I can’t speak for it.”

The instigators of #occupy, Adbusters, post the following on their website:

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a leaderless people powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy … join your local #OCCUPY!

The Egyptians in Tahrir Square wanted Hosni Mubarak to be overthrown. They wanted the people to have a say in their political system and a regime change. The message was clear.

What, exactly, are you wanting? Free condoms? Maximum wages? The end of banks? Better access to heroin?

What is the point of negotiation? Who do the civic, regional and national leaders negotiate with? Your movement is a self-defined leaderless revolution. So who sits at the table? What is the thing that will cause your movement to say “we’ve made a difference, our voice has been heard, let’s get down to business?”

We’re all confused. We see tent cities in our parks. We see drum circles. We see a comedy of errors that brings no sympathy to your cause.

The peace protests wanted an end to the Vietnam War. The civil rights movement wanted equality for all.

We, the 99% that aren’t camping out, twinkling our fingers in general assemblies, donning bandanas and challenging police and damaging public spaces just want to know – what do you want and how can we stop this madness? Because if we don’t stop the madness, it will just get worse.

Thank you.

Calgary Flames’ Press Level Seating At The Saddledome

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What’s in a name? The Calgary Flames hope a lot.


The NHL club plays out of one of the more unique buildings in the NHL. The roof of The Scotiabank Saddledome slopes and swoops with peaks at either end making it look like a saddle. Those high ends at either side are nearly 20 rows of seats that are above the scoreboard, and, because of the trusses and equipment hanging from the ceiling, have an obstructed view of the arena.

Renovations to the old “300 level” have led to something called Press Level Seating to emphasize the fact that the seats have the same angle from which the play by play announcers and analysts view the game.

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Press level seating saddledome

2 huge big screen tv’s have been added to replace the missing scoreboard view, there are some added bathrooms, a concession and it all comes with a cheaper ticket price – about $35.

This week the Flames invited a few dozen of Calgary‘s media hosts to the rafters to experience the game and spread the word. The ticket price is certainly right but something happens the further away from the play you get – the less involved in the outcome you become.

Calgary‘s Saddledome is notoriously quiet on the best of nights, put yourselves a few feet from the roof and you find yourself watching the game on tv more than the ice. People in your section start chatting about nothing to do with hockey. It’s sort of like paying $35 to watch the game at a bar. The environment is great, but you just don’t feel like you’re there. The sound from the crowd (when they do get excited) has a hard time finding it’s way into the corners and you can’t feel the heat from the flame that burns when the team scores.

Press level seating saddledome

It’s not the behind the glass view I had at last year’s Heritage Classic, it is what it is. Everyone ends up leaning forward in their seats to try and get a better view and if you stay back you end up with a third of the ice blocked by hats. Then again, after only spending $35 on tickets instead of $80 or $120 or $200, you will have cash left over for the rest of the stadium experience.

I wouldn’t get season tickets in Press Level Seating, but I wouldn’t avoid them altogether either. It’s an affordable a ticket in an NHL arena. For a dad with a couple of kids who enjoy zamboni watching as much as the game, it’s a great way to get into the barn for a family hockey night in Canada.

When In Rome: How Our Tolerance Of The Intolerant Is Killing Canadian Culture

Rome Umbrellas

It’s a simple concept, really. When in Rome do as the Romans do.

It’s about being polite. It’s about respecting traditions. It’s about going with the flow when visiting another city, country or culture.


The same applies when you move to another country, city or culture. So why is it that we, as Canadians, insist on altering our traditions and cultures for new Canadians?

Two Calgary area schools are banning gory and scary Halloween costumes on Monday. Instead of the traditional spooky stuff, the children are being asked to dress in caring and community friendly attire.

At first, it seems a little ridiculous. Then you read deeper into the story and the “a ha” moment comes and you see the motive behind the headline.

Michelle Speight, who serves as principal for both inner city schools, said the move is designed to accommodate all children, including those with cultural backgrounds that don’t celebrate Halloween. [source]

In other words, a centuries old tradition is being altered to accomodate a cultural minority. A cultural minority, that I would guess, didn’t even ask for the sanitization.

The debate is just getting started. 2 months from today will be Christmas Day. The Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays and Best of the Season wishes will start flowing as nobody dare say Christmas at the risk of offending the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu among us.

Give me a break.

diwali india nightI’m willing to wish you Happy Hannukah, Happy Diwali or Gung Hei Fat Choy. If that’s what you celebrate, good for you. Bring your culture here and let’s have yet another reason to feast and party in the city.

I’ll even retweet your fabulous post of what India looks like at night during Diwali. It’s a great way to learn more about each other’s beliefs, cultures and have a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

We learn how different cultures live when they are expressed to their fullest. Canada prides itself on being a cultural mosaic. Each group brings a different colour to the fabric of the country that should be celebrated. The original Canadian culture needs a spot in that mosaic too.

So when the traditional North American holidays roll around, don’t expect me to sanitize them. You don’t dial down Hannukah thinking I’d find it offensive. You don’t skip Eid because I don’t celebrate it. You don’t demand that my wife wear a hijab.

So why are we acknowledging and accepting, in our tolerance of a multicultural society, the intolerance that some may bring with those cultures? Perhaps those cultures don’t even bring intolerance, but in our role as playing the perfect host, we are bending over backwards to make sure conflicting cultures don’t feel uncomfortable.

It’s time to stand up for Canadian traditions and celebrate them without fear.

In Canada, we celebrate Halloween with scary pumpkins, costumes and candy from neighbours. In Canada, we celebrate Christmas with songs, and gifts, and a big red guy in a suit. Not all of it is religious, and that’s the part that actually makes it more inclusive.

When in Rome, people. When in Rome.

Calgary Kid Friendly Hikes – Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

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Big Hill Springs Provincial Park [map]
Trail Length: 2.3 km / approx 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 20m
Age Appropriate: 2+


Big Hill Springs is located between parkland and foothills natural regions; the main attraction is a series of small waterfalls that flow year-round over rocky terraces covered with a lush growth of shrubs and grasses; the park is also the site of an historic fish hatchery and Alberta’s first commercial creamery. [source]

When looking for a hiking spot with kids you want it short, flat, interesting and close to home. Just a few kilometres northwest of Calgary is Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.

The first part of the trail runs alongside the spring’s creek. Dozens of tiny splooshes and falls dot the path making it interesting for the kids. All along the way are various rock formations (tufa) that are perfect for mini mountaineers to scale and climb. At the top of the trail is a viewpoint overlooking the valley before the trail rambles through the forest for the return descent.

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Many families with kids under 6 yrs old were galloping along the trail, a few with dogs and even 1 with a stroller.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is the perfect afternoon kid friendly hike near Calgary for a brood that needs to burn some steam.

Calgary Daytrips: The Big Rock In Okotoks

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When you have young children, taking a quick daytrip is a great way to spend half a day exploring. You’re on the road for less than an hour, you do some walking around, you stop for a snack and .. voila .. they fall asleep on the ride home after a few hours of fresh air and adventure.


50km southwest of Calgary is where you’ll find the world’s largest glacial erratic. A big rock. In the middle of nowhere. An okatok, to use the Blackfoot word for rock.

The erratic is easy to find, it’s 10km west of the town of Okotoks, Alberta on Highway 7 on the north side of the road. Signs point the way to the parking lot and the hundred metre stroll to the big rock.

So, how did this big rock end up in the middle of the prairies?

The enormous quartzite block, weighing around 16 500 tonnes, was carried on a glacier. Originally a piece of the Rocky Mountains near Jasper some 18 000 years ago, the big rock was borne on a slow journey as the glacier flowed east and south under geological forces. When the ice age ended some 10,000 years back, a string of erratics was deposited along the foothills, with Big Rock the largest.

So that’s the story of how the rock got there and how the town of Okotoks got its name, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a brewery named after big rock too – Big Rock Brewery.

In an industry filled with names that reflect Teutonic traditions, alpine splendor, or brave woodland predators, our company is named after a multi-tonne granite glacial deposit located outside of Okotoks, Alberta. This big rock in the middle of the prairie is known as an erratic, we think it fits.

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