Unlike many other places in the world, Halloween in Madison is primarily an adult event.
Our first year in Madison, we bought many bags of candy because we expected to be innundated with trick or treaters like we were in California. That turned out to be a huge mistake as perhaps seven or eight kids came to our door. We wrote that off as a consequence of living in a relatively secluded neighborhood populated with older folks and few kids. Once we moved to our current home, we expected the situation to change. An elementary and middle school is just two blocks to our west. Another school is a long walk to the south east. In addition, there are plenty of kids in the neighborhood.
Our first Halloween in our home, we bought a fair amount of candy, but less than we might have if we still lived in California. That year, something like fifteen kids that rang our doorbell. When we barely managed to polish off our Halloween candy by Christmas we vowed to never again purchase more than a single bag of candy for Halloween.
This year, we bought a smattering of candy (primarily ones that we like) and took bets on how many trick or treaters would ring our doorbell. My guess was seven. Sarah's was five. The first kid to ring our doorbell (and receive Dalla's full warning bark fury) was a former neighbor. The next four kids stopped by in two pairs. That was that. Sarah guessed correctly with a grand total of five kids stopping by to ask for candy. Lame.
Contrast that with the celebration downtown for college students and young adults. Tens of thousands of people come from all over the nation to take part in Madison's Halloween party downtown. The event is completely unsanctioned and unsponsored, but that doesn't mean nobody is going to show up. The last two years, the event ended with Riot Lite. That is, police spraying tear gas and pepper spray while some store windows get broken and a few bonfires get set. This year, the event ended with riot police and pepper spray, but no real property damage. Despite the best (and somewhat misguided) efforts of the local authorities he party continues unabated.