Sweet tradition: Despite drizzle, Ridge Avenue rules on Halloween

Four years ago, Rachel Phillips moved to what she thought was a normal neighborhood. Her house at the corner of Ridge Avenue and Belvedere Drive seemed perfectly safe by the light of day. She could not predict the fate that awaited her when the sun went down on Halloween night.

That night, the goblins and witches came to demand their due. And they kept on coming.

“The first year we didn’t know, we had only 400 pieces of candy,” Phillips said Saturday evening as she prepared for another overwhelming Ridge Avenue Halloween. “We ran out right away, so we had to go to Walgreen’s to get some more and it took us two hours to get out because of the traffic.”

Phillips said she gave out 4,000 pieces of candy last year. She has learned to embrace the Halloween tradition on Ridge Avenue, which has been a mecca for trick-or-treaters in Macon since the mid-’80s. Families travel from all over the city and beyond to walk the tree-lined sidewalks and beg candy from the residents of the picturesque older homes there.

“I grew up on Hines Terrace, and that used to be the trick-or-treat center, but this is more ridiculous than anything,” Phillips said as she watched friends put the finishing touches on a plywood castle in her front yard. “There’s literally a line where you’re handing out candy continuously. We have to do it in shifts.”

Despite a persistent drizzle, the sweet-seekers still came Saturday night, filling the sidewalks by 7 p.m. But Phillips and others said Ridge Avenue was less crowded than in years past.

That was OK with Lee Fuller, who has never taken her 12-year-old son, Tristan Benns, any place else for Halloween.

“It’s better this year because the crowd is thinner,” Fuller said. “For the last two or three years, it’s gotten so crowded it’s no fun.”

Tonya Simmons came all the way from Warner Robins with 10 members of her family, including 2-year-old grandson Treyshaun Black and 5-year-old granddaughter Neasha Parham. This was her fifth Halloween on Ridge Avenue.

“It’s peaceful, it’s safe, it’s clean and it’s calm,” she said.

By the time it got dark, the scene had gotten a little less calm, as the toddlers in ladybug costumes gave way to older kids in fright masks who liked to jump out from behind trees. Police cars patrolled the avenue, making sure the steady traffic maintained a safe speed.

Tammie Loveless, who lives on nearby Overlook Road, said she and her husband, Joe, don’t mind the crowds that take over their neighborhood every Oct. 31. “We love it,” she said. ”We look forward to it every year. ... I’ve never seen a year when it’s gotten out of control.”

This Halloween was a special one for the Lovelesses. It was their first with their 3-year-old adopted daughter, Desiree.

“You know what? My Halloween clothes are a cheerleader!” Desiree said, striking a rah-rah pose in her little purple outfit.

Asked what her favorite candy was, Desiree thoughtfully sifted through her fuzzy purple bag and produced a little pink box.