Healthy Halloween? It’s not as hard as you think. See below for tips, tricks and traditions to help Northern Michigan families have fun on their Halloween holiday without going overboard on sugar!

Eliza’s Tradition – The Northern Michigan Pumpkin King Trades Candy for Gifts

When I was younger the “Pumpkin King” visited my house on Halloween night. I always found Halloween extra exciting because in exchange for my unwanted candy I got some great Barbie’s and books out of the deal. I was never a sugar hound and I was introduced to the Pumpkin King when I was a little bit older after my parents learned about the concept from some family friends. After he was introduced it quickly became a yearly tradition until the trick or treating era of my life ended. The Pumpkin King was a fairly straightforward tradition. My sisters and I would come home after trick or treating, dump the contents of our plastic pumpkins out and sort through it. Our parents gave us a number of pieces we could keep and the rest went to the Pumpkin King. We would bag it all up, put it on the back porch and in the morning, voila! There would be a little something for each of us.

Rachel’s Tradition – The Candy Fairy Comes to Northern Michigan

At the North household, it was the Candy Fairy who came a few days after Halloween. And in return for the over abundance of candy from the night, she also delivered a toy like one of those Groovy Girl dolls. For older children, books were the prize. As with Eliza’s family, children sort out the “keepers” and then send the rest off to be distributed by the Candy Fairy to kids who don’t have as much. Her bounty was hung outside from a tree branch and the next morning there would be her gift hanging as well.

What Does a Pumpkin King or a Candy Fairy Do With All that Leftover Candy?  Donate Candy to Soldiers

Some Northern Michigan dentists offer Halloween candy buy back programs. Beacon Dental Center in Charlevoix and Gaylord offers $1 per pound of candy brought in. Candy is then turned over to Operation Gratitude, which will share them with U.S. troops serving overseas, their children left behind and “Wounded Warriors” recovering in transition units. Anyone can donate candy for Operation Gratitude at Beacon Dental Center, by dropping off candy at the Charlevoix or Gaylord location, whichever one is closer to you! You can drop off at either location from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday to Friday, through November 6th. This year they are giving away $150 to the top school that collects the most candy!

Drop Off Locations:
06483 M-66 Highway North in Charlevoix, MI 49720
1723 M-32 West Building B in Gaylord, MI 49735

Munson Medical Center’s myWellness team and the Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative are also partnering again to promote healthy eating habits while giving back to troops this Halloween. Children and their parents are invited to bring a portion of their sweet stash collected this Halloween, or leftover treats that were not handed out, to Employee Health at Munson Medical Center or Community Health at Munson Community Health Center from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, and Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Munson Medical Center endocrinologist Jill Vollbrecht, M.D., said the effort helps children understand that health does not have to be “all” or “nothing.”

“You can celebrate Halloween with candy, but after all is said and done, use portion control to limit how much you actually eat,” she said. “Having kids choose their top 10 treats that they received Halloween night teaches them that eating some is OK, but eating all is unhealthy. It also teaches them generosity, by having them donate the leftover candy to the troops.”

The candy will be donated to American Legion Auxiliary Units in Michigan’s Ninth District, to be packaged and sent to troops serving overseas. Last year, 370 pounds of candy were collected.

Munson Medical Center is located at 1105 Sixth St. in Traverse City. Munson Community Health Center is located at 550 Munson Ave. in Traverse City.

8 Healthier Candy Options for Halloween Giving

Candy isn’t necessarily all bad and evil, but moderation is key. We have compiled a list of eight candies that are “healthier” options for your Northern Michigan Halloween, and will make sorting through trick or treat bags a little bit easier.

•    Raisinets
•    3 Musketeers Minis
•    A pouch of Peanut M&M’s
•    Tootsie Rolls
•    Mini York Peppermint Pattie’s
•    Dark Chocolate i.e. Hershey’s Special Dark Mini’s
•    Hershey’s Kisses
•    Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Costume Safety Tips from Munson Medical Center

On it’s website, Munson Medical Center shares many tips for a safe Halloween, including how to make your porch safe for trick-or-treaters and these tips for a safe costume:

  • Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate, or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape.
  • To easily see and be seen, children should carry flashlights and glowsticks.
  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
  • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother’s high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
  • Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes.
  • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
  • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.

More Northern Michigan Holidays