Wedgewood turns into Halloween haven

By T. Scott Boatright

In general, neighborhood trick-or-treating has become a dying trend for many over the past decade or two as parents look to other alternatives to celebrate Halloween.

But there is one Ruston neighborhood nestled off of Cooktown Road, close to Glenview Elementary, that harkens back to the 1960s-80s when hundreds of children took to the streets just to gleefully ask their neighbors, “Trick or Treat?!”

It’s become a Ruston tradition — Wedgewood is the place to be on Halloween.

“I think the way it got started came way back when it was a relatively new subdivision with a lot of houses that were close together and people just started coming in there by word of mouth,” said Ruston native and longtime Wedgewood resident Carl Johnson. “It just became known as a good neighborhood to go trick or treating in. Danny Tatum used to have somebody dress up like a gorilla and Richie McKinney would lay out in a coffin like Dracula. Billy and Kelly Smith would turn their front yard into a graveyard with tombstones and everything. 

“It was just a lot of people getting into having fun doing it, and it grew by word of mouth. It’s been that way for 30 years I guess.”

Retired Ruston High School librarian Faith Alexander is another longtime Wedgewood resident. She said the annual turnout is so strong she really can’t get a grip on the number of children they pass out candy to.

“Every year I say I’m going to keep a count,” Alexander said. “Sometimes I have three friends come over and we’re all passing out candy at once because the kids are coming in such masses. I do know we have a neighbor who used to live down the street and would go to Sam’s and buy 1,500 juice boxes, and he always ran out. It has to be a couple of thousand come through. I never have enough candy. A neighbor buys $800-900 worth of candy and can’t keep up with it. It’s just crazy.

“I’m not sure what happened to make Wedgewood the place to be on Halloween. I think part of it is that it’s considered a safe neighborhood and most of the neighborhood participates. It’s just kind of like Mayberry around here, and I guess that’s the draw. I don’t know what else it could be.”

New Louisiana Tech softball coach Josh Taylor lives on the other side of Cooktown Road across from Wedgewood but spent the evening at assistant coach Chelsea Cohen’s house to experience a Wedgehood Halloween.

“It was the most prolific Halloween experience with kids that I’ve ever been a part of,” Taylor said.  “It’s amazing. Everybody sets up in front of their house and people just come in droves. It was awesome. It was a lot of fun. I live across Cooktown on Bordeaux Street and was coming back from a recruiting trip earlier and could barely get into my driveway because there were so many people around.

“Everybody was super nice and friendly. It felt safe and was phenomenal.”

But even sometimes the most fun events have their drawbacks.

“The last time Halloween fell on a Wednesday I was trying to go to choir practice and it took me about 30 minutes to get from my driveway to Cooktown Road,” said Johnson. “Big mistake on my part.”

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