About this time of the year, a young child's thoughts turn to the morbid and the sweet.
They think of ghosts and goblins. But more than that, they think of the sweet, hard, sticky, chewy, gooey bounty that will befall them.
They think about candy.
"Lots of candy," said Amanda Bassant, 7, of Tarpon Springs. "But not chewy stuff, because I am getting braces." Amanda said SweeTarts, the sweet-sour stuff that's all sugar but no goo, would be okay.
"I'm not allowed gum," she added, "but I'll take some anyway."
At Halloween, children dream and adults worry about candy. Children wonder about what kind they'll get and adults about what they will give out.
Generally, kids like practically any candy as long as it fills their bags, said Brett Anderson, 6, of Tarpon Springs. "I like all candy. I always expect to get something."
Others are more specific in their wants. Jolly Rancher hard candies, Butterfinger chocolate bars, M&Ms, jaw breakers and fireballs all made it onto the lists of children interviewed last week at Tarpon Springs Fundamental and Ozona Elementary School.
"The best thing I got in my bag (last year) was a king-size pack of M&Ms," said Alex Rauld, 8, of Tarpon Springs.
The worst thing to drop into an outstretched goody bag would be fruit, kids agreed. Some of the children said fruit just seems out of place on a day they think should be dedicated to sugary confections.
"There is this one guy who is too cheap to buy candy and gives us apples every year," said Justin Gentry, 9, of Palm Harbor. "I don't eat them, I put them under the back tire of my mom's car and let her run over them."
Other children feared getting bugs in their bags.
"I would hate to get a spider in mine," said Renee James, 7, of Tarpon Springs. "It would be very scary."
Adults, of course, have their own ideas for what ought to be dropped into kids' goody bags. Here's a sampling of what some north Pinellas households will be giving out this Halloween:
"Every year my husband and I give out sugarless gum in packets to the children, and to the neighborhood children that we know, we give out toothbrushes," said Victoria Bong-Krueger. The couple are dentists in Clearwater, and Mrs. Bong-Krueger is the president of the Upper Pinellas Dental Association. Children appear happy to get the gum, while their parents are pleased with the toothbrushes, she said.
Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice is giving out candy and fruit at his home, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha. In addition, the Sheriff's Office sponsors a trick or treat through its offices. Staff members will be dressed in costumes and hand out small bags of penny candy.
Pinellas County Tax Collector W. Fred Petty gives money to the children that come to his home. "There has been so much controversy and scare into giving out apples that I give out quarters," he said. "If you live in an area with not a lot of children, it's not that expensive. And it doesn't rot their teeth." Petty expects to give away $20 in quarters Halloween night.
"I give out typical candy and baseball cards of the Blue Jays," said Ken Carson, head of the Blue Jays' Florida operations. "We do this every year. It's real popular."
Joe Miller, director of the Urban League's Omni Center in Largo, gives out gift certificates to fast food restaurants or quarters and other change. "I am real leery about giving out candy."
Gay and Andy Schmidt of J. J. Gandy's Pies in Palm Harbor give out Werther's Original butterscotch candies. "It's something we like, and we live in an area with very few kids," Mrs. Schmidt said.
"What the kids don't eat, I'm going to eat," Mr. Schmidt said.
"We hand out imported hard candies with little netting and bows around them," said Tony Woodworth, owner of Loft Candy and Gift Shop in Indian Rocks Beach. Halloween isn't a boon for his business.
"People will give out anything they can get cheap from Wal-Mart," he said. "They aren't interested in quality. Halloween isn't our month."