Though times change, Halloween still captivates



​​​​SEATTLE – With October 31 right around the corner, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance reveals that two out of three residents in the Northwest believe that the way we celebrate Halloween, whether with pumpkins, parties, costumes or candy, has changed. But while many acknowledge a shift in celebrations, the Seattle-based insurer's poll finds that the most enthusiastic participants remain as dedicated as ever to the haunted holiday.

According to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, 65 percent of Washington and Oregon residents say that the way they celebrate Halloween has changed at least somewhat over time, with one in three (29 percent) going as far as saying it's changed a great deal.

Of course, age plays a significant role in shaping those perceptions. Three-quarters (74 percent) of people over 55 are most likely to say they've sensed change, while fewer younger counterparts (61 percent) say the same.

"We thought that folks of all ages might tell us that interest in Halloween has dwindled over time," said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. "What we confirmed, though, is that it's still very much a young person's holiday largely embraced by kids and parents and just a few older holdouts who enjoy dressing up, attending parties, and handing out candy."

In fact this year, nearly three-quarters of people under 35 (71 percent) are very or even extremely likely to host or attend a Halloween party, while only half that number (39 percent) of their over-35 counterparts are likely to say the same. Younger people, too, are among those most likely to dress up – two-thirds of households with residents under 55 have at least one person who regularly wears a costume while just 17 percent of older adults do the same.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that older people will be home handing out treats instead. The PEMCO poll finds that one-third (36 percent) of those over 55 say they're somewhat or much less likely to hand out treats today compared to years past. And, of the 58 percent of all residents who say they're very or extremely likely to greet trick-or-treaters with candy, the vast majority, again, are younger residents and people with children.

The PEMCO poll also revealed another sign of the times: 24 percent of Northwest residents say they're more likely to trick-or-treat at a retail location than a neighborhood.

"For those of us who have perceived a decline in neighborhood door-to-door trick-or-treating over the years, it could simply be that more families now do it in malls," Osterberg said. "Since it first caught on in the '90s, retail trick-or-treating has become popular for its comfortable conditions and safety."

For those who stick to the streets, we've all known people who say they take their kids to different neighborhoods where they expect to get bigger or better candy, right? The PEMCO poll revealed 17 percent admit they go to neighborhoods most likely to give out "the best candy possible."

But nearly as many want the experience to be short and sweet – 12 percent say they deliberately go wherever the process is as efficient as possible. Of them, twice as many adults over 35 are concerned with brevity compared with younger residents (14 percent vs. 7 percent).

Regardless of destination or the candy haul, safety is the primary concern for 76 percent of people when considering where to take kids on Halloween. To keep trick-or-treaters of all ages safe, PEMCO offers a few simple tips:

  • Younger trick-or-treaters should always be accompanied by a trusted adult for the entire route.
  • For older trick-or-treaters heading out on their own, talk about the route and agree on a return time.
  • Wear reflective gear and carry flashlights.
  • Stick to the sidewalk and only cross the street at corners.
  • Never eat unwrapped candy, and adults should examine treats for tampering or choking hazards.  
  • Be extra cautious when driving. Watch for kids in dark clothing who might dart into your path.
  • For more Halloween safety tips, visit

For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in October 2014.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.


About PEMCO Insurance

PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold to consumers by the method they choose – phone, local community agents, or online. For more information, visit J.D. Power has ranked PEMCO "Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Auto Insurers in the Northwest Region, Three Years in a Row." For J.D. Power award information, visit