Ghouls and graphs: Soldotna house tallies 779 trick-or-treaters
On the first day of November, the entryway of Nikki Stein’s house in Soldotna was still something out of a Spirit Halloween store — from the bowl of chocolates and sour candy on a table right next to the door, to the cobweb-covered banister above a box of fake potions.
Stein, a teacher, has always loved Halloween.
“I’ve been into theater since I’ve been extremely young,” she said. “So I like the idea of just dressing up.”
But she hasn’t always lived in a trick-or-treatable neighborhood. Stein grew up in a rural community in southern Indiana, where she said trick-or-treaters would only come by if they had called in advance.
But now, she and her boyfriend, Nick Berlon, live on a quintessential trick-or-treating street, in Soldotna. It’s well-lit, with walkable sidewalks and good parking.
“We moved into this house at the beginning of 2021. And we had heard from several people who just are locals or have lived on this street before that we needed to know about Halloween,” she said. “This is kind of just a trick-or-treat alley.”
Stein and Berlon knew it was going to be big. But they wanted to know just how big. So last Halloween they started informally tallying up the number of kids who were coming by, on a steno pad.
“I really like data and making charts and everything, Stein said. “I’m a bit of a nerd. So I kind of made a dataset with it and graphed it and everything.”
Even with the heads up from the neighbors, they got more trick-or-treaters than they were expecting — 731. They ran out of candy before the traffic stopped.
“So this year, I wanted to continue with kind of honing in on our data a little more, making it a little more polished,” she said.
This year, Stein and Berlon kept a handwritten tally of how many kids came to the house in 15 minute increments. They put all the data into a spreadsheet on the computer and took note of when the first and last kids stopped by (5:04 and 9:04 p.m. respectively) and then put all that information into a graph. They charted 779 trick-or-treaters overall, with the biggest rush coming between 5:45 to 6 p.m.
“And at that time period, you don’t even shut the door,” Stein said. “I mean, I know our house was freezing just because of how much our door was open all night.”
She estimated they spent $200 to $300 on candy, though she said a lot of their supply was also donated by friends and coworkers.
Stein said keeping track of the trick-or-treaters has made her like Halloween even more. But she said it’s also hard work.
“Because, from the doorway, a lot of kids come in hoards,” she said. “It’s just a single-file line, and you can get as many as 20 kids within one group. Sometimes you don’t catch all of them. I’m sure that our data has a little bit of a margin of error.”
Error or not, she’ll be back next year to crunch the numbers again — with even bigger and better decorations. She said hearing from kids that their house was the best decorated on the block was what really makes Halloween special.