Growing up in Rockland County, New York there was a yearly, unofficial tradition that took place on October 30th. It's known by a host of different names: Devil's Night, Gate Night, Goosey Night, Moving Night, Cabbage Night, Mystery Night and Mat Night. In Rockland, where I grew up, it was known as Gate Night, something we shared with just a few other locations.

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A Night of Pranks

Whatever you call it, when we were kids, it was a night of fun and simple debauchery. The first known reference to the night was uttered by a school headmaster in 1790 who said: "an Ode to Fun which praises children's tricks on Mischief Night in most approving terms". This fun went really bad in New Jersey in the 1990s in Camden, 130 arson attacks were reported on 10/30/1991.

Don't Try This At Home

Now, it might not have been a big deal north of New York City, but if you know you know. Now, in case the attorneys are watching, I am in NO WAY encouraging you to go out and participate in egregious shenanigans, dear reader, this is simple storytelling.

Gate Night as we called it had some definite constant signatures. High on the list was toilet papering anything. From yards to buildings to cars and trees, nothing was safe. Thankfully, toilet paper degrades easily and quickly, and isn't all that harmful.

I remember working at DeCicco's C Town on Gate Night and being told that everyone needs to show ID for eggs, and that no one under 18 was able to purchase. Another Gate Night tradition is egging cars and people. This one kind of makes you a jerk though, eggs can leave stains and eggshells can cut skin.

Sometimes things escalate to smashing pumpkins and spray painting. Both are outside the realm of simple, harmless pranks. Don't want to destroy? Ding-dong-ditch still works, but it's 2023 and cameras are everywhere.

Halloween Pranks of Yesteryear

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