Halloween night is almost here.  And every year, people flock to Southern Village to trick-or-treat or to check out the decorations. Some families go all out, setting up haunted houses in their front yards, including scary music and fog machines.

The sidewalks are crowded with both neighborhood kids and kids from the greater Chapel Hill area as well.  Why is it so popular? Beyond the decorated homes, it’s the design of the neighborhood.  Southern Village is probably the most walkable and dense community in Chapel Hill.  Parents see that, and feel comfortable enough to bring their children to wander about in costumes.  It is such a phenomena, that many urbanists have studied and written about it, like this Bloomberg article from 2012

With that in mind, here is an, admittedly, not complete assessment of how our neighborhoods accommodate trick-or-treaters. If they are terrible on Halloween, they are terrible for kids on every other day, and that is a bad thing.

Triangle Blog Blog Official Halloween Walk Score (TBBOHWS , scored A to F) 


Southern Village:  TBBOHWS=A

As a resident I am biased, but having sidewalks on BOTH sides of EVERY street in Southern Village, closely placed homes, street lights, stop signs and traffic calming measures places Southern Village at the top of the heap.  Tonight, the streets will be full of trick-or-treaters.  One neighbor constantly has had over a thousand kids visit their home. (That’s a lot of Snickers bars.)

109 Spring Valley Rd Carrboro NC 27510:   TBBOHWS=A

This popular decorated haunt — which calls itself Webbwood Manor — is raising funds for the IFC Carrboro this year. Bonus: You’re right around the corner from…..

Quarterpath Trace, The Cedars, and Pacifica: – TBBOHWS=B+

These three neighborhoods in Carrboro have great candy, stop signs, and traffic calming measures. They also have closes relatively close together. Sidewalks are not on both sides of the street.

Meadowmont: TBBOHWS=B-

Meadowmont isn’t bad, but the longer, wider streets have traditionally experienced speeding cars. Garage-fronted houses have created nearly an epidemic of cars blocking sidewalks, forcing ghosts and goblins to walk around thoughtlessly-parked cars. 

Lake Forest: TBBOHWS=B

We give them credit for putting together a great map of trick-or-treating hot spots, but the street lights could be improved.

Westwood: TBBOHWS=D

This older neighborhood could have been expected to do better, but there are two problems: the lack of sidewalks, and large setbacks on homes, forcing trick-or-treaters to hike up to the houses. It’s also dark, thanks to the lack of streetlights.

Northside: TBBOHWS=C

Another older neighborhood one might have expected to do well, but there are a combination of problems:

  • A lack of consistent sidewalks on both sides of the street. 
  • Inadequate street lighting and 
  • A student population who don’t always give out candy lead to this poor score.

Little Ridgefield: TBBOHWS=B+

From a former neighbor: “AWESOME for trick or treating, possibly partly due to the narrower streets and general small size of the neighborhood.”

Oakwood: TBBOHWS=D

From a current neighbor: “Not awesome. The road is a drag strip, the houses are too far apart and set too far back from the street. Poor street lighting. Lots of reckless driving. “

Briar Chapel:  TBBOHWS=C

The sidewalks and the rear garages offer so much to attract families to trick-or-treat.  However, actual parkways bisecting the community make it hazardous for kids on any day to cross the streets, let alone on Halloween.  If you stay away from the Parkways, you will probably be ok, but it is surprising that a ‘green’ community is so car-centric. 

Halloween house in Southern Village

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John Rees lives in Chapel Hill. His day job is an enterprise architect for a big IT company. He was, until very recently, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission and former chair. He serves on...