Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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November 1, 2012

Carrie Stambaugh: A trick or treat of mother nature?: 11/02/12

ASHLAND — Mother Nature had her own trick-or-treat fun this year.

For just the third time in my lifetime, there was snow on the ground before Halloween.

I had been predicting an October snow since early this spring, but I never imagined it would be hurricane snow!

According to my meteorologist friends at the National Weather Service, Tuesday was just the second time in 87 years that there has been a measurable snowfall before November in Ashland. The official recorded snowfall was 2 inches on Tuesday.

Before then, the last time snow blanketed our little river valley this early was in 1993. I was 10, and lived down river where the same storm dropped 6.5 inches on my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, the night before Halloween. Ashland got 1.5 inches that day, marking the first time since 1925 a measurable snow fell here in October.

Snowfall in October isn’t as rare in Cincinnati. Just four years earlier in 1989 another storm also dumped 6-plus inches of snow on Cincinnati 10 days before Halloween. I remember it too because it froze pumpkins to the ground, ruining a trip to pick the perfect jack-o-lantern.

It was the October snow storm of 1993 though that is most vividly seared into my memory. I remember the fear Mother Nature’s little trick instilled into us children.

Would Halloween be canceled? Would we still get to dress up and get free candy? Oh, how disappointing it would be to miss Halloween!

We still had to go to school that day, so trick- or-treating wasn’t canceled either. But costumes had to be re-thought and winterized.

My inseparable best friend at the time was Laura Jones and we had planned to go as “supermodels” that year. We had picked out short skirts and glittery tops to be worn with big tall shoes and fishnet tights with lots of big crimped hair and makeup. I don’t know why we thought that was supermodel-esque at the time, but “whatever.”

We both ended up in heavy sweaters, snowsuits and boots. Our exaggerated blue eye makeup and bright red lipstick was the only evidence we were dressed up.

At least one of my little sisters wasn’t too happy about the costume modifictions either. Katie, known affectionately as our “angel,” had just turned six. She let her dissatisfaction with having her angel wings on over her coat known with a cocophany of screams and shrieks. In the end, I think she opted not to wear them.

After getting the mom stamp of winter-ready approval, we were released to trick-or-treat. Trudging through the dark in deep snow wasn’t much fun. The pillowcases we used to collect our haul got wet and made our fingers sting with cold.

Running through the deep drifts of snow on lawns was hard work, so instead we navigated the shoveled sidewalks. This wasted precious time though and cost us in candy.

In addition to jack-o-lanterns, I remember, there were snow ghosts and snow devils decorating people’s lawns. The boys’ changed their “tricks” to pelting unsuspecting trick-or-treaters with snowballs instead of jumping out of the bushes with masks on.

For a while we traded our bags of candy for sleds before heading inside to warm up with hot chocolate before bed.

It was perhaps the memorable Halloween of my childhood, a precious timeless treat.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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