We now pause for a news flash: Halloween will be celebrated this year on Oct. 31, by decree of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners also have decided that Thanksgiving will be on a Thursday, Christmas will be celebrated on Dec. 25, and New Year's Eve will fall on the day before New Year's Day, which will once again be celebrated on Jan. 1.
In a related move, commissioners also voted to make the sky blue, water wet, and little apples green.
Actually, the commissioners didn't decree any such thing - though you wouldn't know it from some of the inquiries to the county's information hot line.
Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker says the county's 3-1-1 service operators have been receiving calls recently from residents wondering when Halloween will be celebrated. Really.
Man, I wish I was answering those phones: "We outlawed Halloween in Columbia County," I'd say. "But there is an amnesty program if you weren't aware of the law. If you've already bought candy, you need to bring it to my office for, um, disposal. Especially the Snickers."
Seriously (not really), can you imagine the conversation?
Caller: "When will Halloween be celebrated?"
Operator: "Is this a trick question?"
Caller: "No, really: what day will the children go trick-or-treating?"
Operator: "On Halloween."
Caller: "Yeah, but when is Halloween?"
Operator: "On Oct. 31st...?"
Caller: "Really? Weird."
This stuff, it seems, happens every year. It would be fun to once again blame this nonsense on Frank Spears. He was a county commissioner who years ago persuaded fellow commissioners to declare a different day for trick-or-treating - since that year it fell on Sunday, the day for passing offering plates rather than treat bags. But this confusion isn't his fault.
Tucker says many of the calls are coming from brand-new residents, who tell the operators that where they came from, trick-or-treating usually was moved to the nearest weekend.
Which makes me wonder: Where did those people come from? Moronville?
Come on, folks: Halloween is on Oct. 31, just like Christmas is celebrated Dec. 25. We've already allowed the government to screw up the birthday celebrations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, blurring them into the generic Monday "Presidents Day." (Quick - without Google, do you even know their actual birth dates any more?)
It's only a matter of time before other date-specific holidays, such as Pearl Harbor Day or Valentine's Day, are pushed over to other dates for convenience. Probably the only holiday immune to such a change would be Independence Day - since we've already locked in its more-used generic name, July 4th.
But give it time:
Caller: "Yes, can you tell me when we celebrate July 4th this year?"
Operator: "On Halloween."
Rarely has someone been so richly deserving of accolades as was Lynell Widener this past week, when she was named as Columbia County Artist of the Year.
It would perhaps have been more appropriate to give Mrs. Widener a Lifetime Achievement Award, because that's really the meaning of the honor from Columbia County Arts.
Mrs. Widener has made a unique contribution to the county's art and its history, using her talent to record the county's disappearing features. Amazingly, she really didn't get into art until nearly 40 years ago - and now she's a vibrant 82.
Congratulations to a great lady.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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