I have been thinking quite a lot about how small town leadership provides Halloween celebrations to remember.
Small town leadership is so pivotal in the success of any rural community. Although I grew up in the country, I still visited my small town nearly every day growing up. And since my family owned (and still owns) a business in town, we knew pretty much everyone.
In fact, to most country kids, small towns are a big part of their lives. Because it’s the small town leadership of those small towns provide a multitude of memories for it’s youth. I didn’t know it then, but I now know the small town leadership of the people is what provides amazing memories to remember.
At least, that’s the way it was for me.
And now, as I get my kiddos’ costumes ready for the big night, I’ve been thinking back to the days of celebrating Halloween in my small town. And I even asked my own mom to please send me some old Halloween pictures of me for your viewing pleasure. So, please sit back, relax and enjoy the antique pictures I share while reading memories from my youth.
Here’s how small town leadership provides Halloween celebrations to remember.
Elements of Small Town Leadership
Small town leaders work together with the community to create memorable holiday activities, such as Halloween. The nuts and bolts of small town leadership are as followed:
- Kings – The Mayor and Local Business Owners. Key influencers of the community.
- King Makers – Secondary influencers of the Community. Community board members and committee members. Create activities for rural communities.
- Volunteers – Community members who give their time, energy and creativity. Their purpose is to serve the activities set by the king makers. They can also influence the King Makers by voicing their opinions and giving suggestions for activities.
Opportunities of small town leadership:
- More likely to receive funding for grants based on needs.
- More activities for smaller numbers.
- The ability to transfer leadership to the next generation (If they are willing)
Key Strengths of small town leadership model:
- A special connection to all community members.
- The ability to create a safe environment to local families.
- The ability to work well together on committees to plan memorable activities.
Common weaknesses & threats to small town leadership:
- Lack of Volunteerism
- Conflict among Kings and King Makers
And the beauty of this system of small town leadership is the magic of what they can create together. Let me tell you a little bit more about my own experience growing up in a rural community thriving with small town leadership.
Growing Up In Courtland, Kansas
I grew up on the outskirts of a small town in Kansas called Courtland. Courtland still has a population of around 300 good people today and shows no signs of losing it’s population. It’s a thriving rural community.
But what’s also special about Courtland is that it provide loads of activities and experiences for a thriving population. It is a Kansas Pride Community and has a very active Arts Council. These are two organizations that still sponsor many activities for patrons of all ages.
Activities are usually centered around seasons or holidays. Halloween activities are planned each year. And it’s been that way for a long time.
I remember the haunted fire hall. A jail, fortune teller, and zombies replaced the fire trucks in the local fire hall. There were also snacks and a costume contest.
Another year, there was a costume making party and pumpkin carving contest at the City Park. Recently, hay rack rides have been provided for all kids to ride around town on for trick or treating.
And trick or treating was always fun in Courtland. My siblings and I always dressed up and trick or treated in the town of Courtland. My mom usually made our costumes.
Safe Trick Or Treating In A Small Town
Mom wrote in my scrap book that I won a costume contest award with this dalmation dog costume (See Below).
To make the dalmatian dog costume, Mom took a white sweat pants suit and black paint and painted spots. Also, I had socks on my hands and feet painted like dog feet with claws. Then, she painted my nose and lipstick on my face to make a dog face and I believe she somehow made dog ears out of felt. It was a comfortable and fun costume to wear out on the town trick or treating.
Our trick or treating routine was normally the same each year. On Halloween night, mom always dropped my siblings and I off in town and we went door to door with other friends. It took all night.
Why? Because we were usually invited into the house to talk and to receive our treats. We accepted because we knew and trusted the good people who lived in these houses.
Small Town Leadership Gems
The main thing I remember about Halloween in my small town, was how generous and welcoming the elders and leaders were to the kids of the community. It wasn’t anything I thought or cared about back then, but I sure do miss it now. I miss the conversation and friendships made just by going inside to stay a bit.
And one of my favorite stops was my own Grandpa and Grandma’s house (of course). Because they let me pass out candy for a little bit while we were there. No one ever came trick or treating to our house in the country, so passing out candy to other kids we knew was fun.
It’s sad to think about those elders I loved visiting with, who are no longer there. The Jr. High Track coach’s wife made and handed out the best homemade pop corn balls. The banker who gave 50 cent pieces had intended to give $1.00 pieces. But passed away unexpectedly. Other special people have moved away and new families have moved in to town to keep the traditions alive.
Hence, the people in Courtland have changed hands in leadership. And that leadership has lived on through the young families who want to instill values and keep the town safe for it’s youth.
And today, my home town continues to provide safe Halloween activities for families.
Small Town Transplant
This is what I am now. Living just about exactly how I grew up. Just transplanted into a new rural community three hours away from my early memories.
And what I remember most about growing up in Courtland are the traditions of getting together in a safe environment. I know there are many small towns like Courtland in the world determined to provide a safe and enjoyable Halloween celebration for the area youth, which is what keeps the town alive and kicking.
The small town leadership strategies instilled in me will help me to become an asset to the local communities I’m transplanted it. When the time comes, I will be asked to serve my new rural community. And I will do so with the elements I learned from growing up in my home town.
Because I know that it’s certainly amazing what creative activities small communities can come up with few resources and funding. I’ve seen proof of it. Especially where funding and resources are limited.
And small communities are the most special. Because time and time again, the small town leadership have been forced to come together. Small town leaders have been forced think creatively without the ease of resources and funding for family friendly activities. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Because Sometimes Times Are Hard
Good small town leadership unites in the worst of times to keep the community together.
And hard times are coming for rural communities all over the country. The farming economy is what drives rural communities. And the farm markets are taking a hit similar to what happened in the 1980’s farming crisis.
So, rural communities will take a hit as well. Jobs will be lost. Businesses will fail. Families will move away to where their breadwinners can find a source of income. Rural communities will be changed.
But hard times have hit rural communities before. What these communities need to realize is the need to come together more than ever. And they will.
Because when a small group of people come together, their care factor is even larger than the community itself. They understand the value of doing more with less. And they can bring more to the table than any other group I know.
What Might Save Rural Communities
There’s something different about this “potential farm crisis” than any other crisis or depression to date. And that, my friend, is the development of the internet.
It’s really so simple. People, like you, can work from home via the net and continue to live in their rural community. You can become more frugal and save. And you can even start your very own business right from your home. Here are 23 ideas.
Truly the internet has provided amazing opportunities for people to work remotely wherever they are.
Also, it’s very important to to stay positive. Stay involved and lift each other up. This time will pass and rural communities will thrive on.
So, I want to challenge people of rural communities to NOT pick up and move their families away from rural life. Because there is so much value. This crisis could be such a great learning experience for families. Use this time to create a life for you and your family wherever you are and with opportunities that are laid out for you.
And I know it can be scary staying put in the middle of a crisis. But the memories I have of growing up in a safe and giving communities much outweigh the memories of the farm crisis. In fact, I have no early memory of any stress my family had because of the farm crisis of the 1980’s or any stress later.
In fact, my childhood was very care free and stress free. Thanks to the creative and cheerful environment of the activities provided to my family and other rural families from our small town.
How is such a small town able to provide such amazing memories for kids & families?
Have you ever wondered this? How small communities are continuing to stay afloat? How small rural businesses are able to stay going while others fail?
- Meeting Community Needs.
- The Entire Community Cares.
- Small Town Leadership Shares.
Because they care. It’s simple. Small town community people care about the future. Hence, they care about the youth of the area.
Actually, the dynamics that come together to create awesome activities in these small towns is quite astounding. Especially since funding and resources are sometimes limited in small communities. How are they able to do so?
Because local leaders are able to think outside the box to create more with less. They can invent low-cost and fun activities kids want to do, such as Halloween parties. Most of the material and supplies are donated by community people who have the talent or items just sitting around. They want to get rid of it anyways. And they just plain care.
Talented volunteers spend their own time to help carry out the programs and activities, making them fun, safe, and enjoyable for the families of the community. They wouldn’t be spending their time if they didn’t care deeply about the youth of the community.
Small Town Leadership Is Caring & Sharing
The secret to successful memorable small town Halloween festivals is so simple. Sharing creative ideas and resources between committee members is what makes small town festivities amazing.
Caring enough to help see these activities through provides fun and awesome memories for the youth, who will later grow into a leader themselves.
I see this happening all the time in rural communities I’m connected with. And as I continue to bloom where I’ve become planted, I will someday soon take on a leadership role for kids in my local community.
I will provide experiences to other youth as the leaders and elders of my small community of Courtland, Kansas did for me growing up celebrating holidays, like Halloween. And you can, too!
How will you become a small town leader and serve your community?
How has your small town or community provided celebrations for families?
~ Much Love ~