THE first media mention of an October Halloween observance in Utah was probably in the Salt Lake Herald newspaper on Nov. 1, 1877.
"Last evening was Halloween," the story stated, "And among many from the old countries was held in remembrance by indulging in the innocent fireside pastimes so common on the occasion in Britain. Snatch apple, dutch apple, and little amusements that brought back memories of childhood's days were enjoyed by numbers throughout Utah and elsewhere."
-The next mention of Halloween was not until 1885, when the Oct. 30 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune advertised a Halloween party sponsored by the ladies of the Congregational Church of Salt Lake. The notice stressed that this was the first public "Halloween Party" ever given in Utah. Admission was 25 cents a person for the Oct. 31 event, with food, music and fortunes told. "The church is in need of money," the notice also stated.
Previously, there had been small social gatherings held in Salt Lake homes on Halloween night. For example, the first mention of those was a year prior, in 1884, as the S.L. Herald stated on Nov. 1 of that year.
-JUMP AHEAD more than 50 years to 1939 and Halloween night in Layton, Utah featured little about candy and was mostly about criminal mischief and pranks.
“Halloween pranks, vandalism annoy County citizens” was a headline in the Davis County Clipper newspaper on Nov. 3, 1939.
Waxing windows was a very common prank, along with the theft of automobile parts and dumping sugar beets.
In Layton, the porch of one home was badly scorched when youth tossed a signal torch upon it. The homeowner fortunately put out the fire before it set the structure ablaze.
One of the retail stores in Layton posted watchmen on the night of Oct. 31 in front of its large windows to prevent vandals from waxing them. However, “Halloweeners” on horseback used lassos to incapacitate the guards while other juveniles waxed all the store windows.
-In Syracuse, sugar beets in a rail car bound for the Layton processing plant were dumped on the spur line by a group of boys – despite weighing tons. Sheriff’s officers apprehended the juveniles.
-In Centerville, some homes were plastered with fruit and vegetables thrown by pranksters.
“Halloween is a time for pure fun,” the newspaper reported. “But when citizens everywhere have to be on guard to protect their homes and places of business … then it is time for parents and all citizens to unite and educate the youth of today upon the rights of everyone and that these costly depredations must stop.”