Halloween has gotten WAY out of control.
The night of the living beggars used to require just a nice jack-o'-lantern, an old sheet, and maybe a black rubber bat flipping around in the wind.
Now, look around.
Whole subdivisions decorated at Christmaslike levels. Lights. Lawn decorations. Sound effects. And when did elaborate displays of corn stalks, store-bought ghosts hanging in trees and orange, pumpkin-shaped, leaf bags become de rigueur for Halloween?
Everything is plugged in. Strands of pumpkin lights cast a goblin's glow over front porches. Fake tombstones blink on and off as they turn peaceful front yards into haunted graveyards. Doormats cackle like witches.
Tricks and treats
Beneath the orange-and-black blitz (who dresses those cement geese up like witches, anyway?), I've noticed the treats are about the same.
Candy. Candy. And more candy.
Let's get with the treats this year, Cincinnati, especially you high-rolling witches and warlocks.
If I could cast a Halloween spell, this is what Greater Cincinnati's famous might give out Thursday night:
Si Leis - Free America Online access disks. Mr. Clean is onto cyberspace and wants it free of tricks.
Mike Brown - Coupons. Lots of coupons. Redeem 400 - on triple coupon day - and you get a seat license.
Dave Shula - Autographs. While the supply lasts.
Bruce Coslett - Laps around Spinney Field. Don't want one? Take two, wimp.
Marge Schott - Same as last year: Dog hair.
Schottzie 02 - See above.
John Allen - Your name on the left field wall, right next to Johnny Bench's jersey.
Mayor Roxanne Qualls - Word is she bought a batch of souvenir T-shirts from Cincinnati Art Museum's Women in Ancient Egypt exhibition. Yours will read: She who must be obeyed.
Lollipops and Snickers
Tim Mara - Half pennies left over from the anti-stadium tax campaign.
Bob Bedinghaus - Treasure maps locating the new Reds and Bengals stadiums.
Norma Rashid - Studio passes to The Jerry Springer Show.
Bob Huggins - Hugs & kisses. To anyone dressed in a zebra-striped shirt.
Jeff Ruby - Car tires - very used - plucked from the river outside his restaurant, the Waterfront.
Newport Aquarium - Fishhooks. So no one gets away.
Lawrenceburg's riverboat casino - Dice. Never been kissed.
Republican Rep. Steve Chabot - Eyes of Newt.
County Recorder candidate Rebecca Groppe - College catalogs.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport - Earplugs. For the West Side.
Stanley Aronoff - Postcards of his buildings.
Gov. George Voinovich - Free flight lessons, cleared for takeoff at any airport.
Fernald - Glow worms.
Olympian Amanda Borden - Smiles.
Nick Vehr - Cincinnati-style Olympic dreams, cast in gold, silver and bronze.
Phil Heimlich - Junior G-Men decoder rings.
Jim Tarbell - Opening Day tickets to his Broadway Commons ballpark.
Marty Brennaman & Joe Nuxhall - Miniature Reds contracts. Signed on the dotted line.
Chris Sabo - Corks.
Jerry Carroll - Season schedules for the Turfway Park Reds.
Charles Winburn - Yellow hard hats, whistles and lyrics to ''Down with Dope.''
Carl Lindner - Bus tokens. From the man who sent TANK riders out of Dixie Terminal and into the cold.
P&G's John Pepper - Olestra Pringles. Two cans. Each!
The Enquirer - Free papers. From August.
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.