Candy, costumes, and comedy: Iowans continue Beggars’ Night trick-or-treating tradition

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Most trick-or-treaters in America solely look forward to Halloween, but Iowans continued their tradition of starting the fun a day early.

Children and their parents participated in Beggars’ Night on Saturday, which always takes place the day before Halloween. The regional holiday features the usual trick-or-treating and costumes, but the major difference is children are encouraged to tell a joke before receiving their candy.

“You hear a lot of good jokes and sometimes you get to steal the best jokes from other people,” said Sam Browning, who trick-or-treated as a child for Beggars’ Night, but has now transitioned to handing out treats instead. “It’s great.”

Although Iowans are used to the extra day of Halloween, some transplants experienced the holiday for the very first time.

Nick Atrey moved to Iowa from California with his wife and two-year-old son last year. Dressed as a construction worker, he said he was excited to experience the festivities with his family.

“It’s been built up; I’ve heard quite a lot about it since the time I’ve been here,” Atrey said. “I won’t lie, the expectations are very high. I’m going to be on a sugar high probably.”

This year is a return to normalcy for Beggars’ Night after COVID-19 concerns stopped beggars in their tracks last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe trick-or-treating can be done safely during the pandemic, and some Iowans were ready to welcome back the Beggars’ Night crowd.

“This is a great way to see people again,” Browning said. “We’ve been in the house for so long that it’s like we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be out in groups like this.”

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