James Ferace's original plan for Halloween was to take his 9-year-old daughter to Mystic Seaport for the outdoor trick or treat event.
Father and daughter were dressed as vampires. Ferace said his daughter Raven insisted on his dressing up with her, as her "vampire daddy."
The heavy rains Thursday afternoon, in the end, led Ferace to a change of plans.
They decided to try to stay indoors and headed to the Crystal Mall in Waterford, where Ferace remembered successfully trick or treating years ago with some friends and his nephews.
The visit to the mall early Thursday evening started well, Ferace said, when he was greeted at the mall entrance by some store employees, who congratulated the pair on their costumes.
"I was kind of beaming with pride," Ferace told me Friday.
Ferace was wearing an old top hat he had unearthed from a closet and a long black coat. He had on some whitish makeup and wore plastic fangs. His daughter was wearing a vampire dress he bought her at Target.
Inside the mall, too, things started out well, as the pair began making their way to stores welcoming trick or treaters.
Then the scary part of the evening began.
Ferace said he was confronted by a gruff security guard who told him he had to leave because he was wearing a mask.
Really? Ferace recalls saying. But it's Halloween.
The security guard, though, was not to be persuaded, Ferace said. He angrily told them they were breaking the rules and had to leave right away.
Ferace thought about protesting, but then he saw some other parents in costumes — one was a jester — being confronted by several other security guards. Those parents were also upset, Ferace said.
He decided to get out of there.
In the end, the same guard who rudely confronted him also led him and his daughter to the exit, Ferace said, like criminals.
As if his daughter's tears were not bad enough — her night out with her vampire daddy ruined — Ferace, a writer who lives in Gales Ferry, got no satisfaction when he called the mall later to complain.
They told him again he had broken the rules. In the end, he added, they hung up on him.
When I called the mall public relations agency Friday they sent me a statement that noted the mall's "Malloween" promotion this year was actually last Saturday.
But the spokeswoman I talked with did say that some stores were still giving out candy to trick of treaters Thursday night, even though it wasn't an official mall event. The mall stopped celebrating Halloween on Halloween two years ago, she said.
The statement noted that the "mall has a code of conduct that is enforced year-round that no face masks, face painting or anything else concealing the face is allowed for those over 17 years of age."
Clearly no exceptions are made for Halloween, especially when you are trying to celebrate Halloween on Halloween.
Ferace said he saw employees at a McDonald's dressed up Thursday, having fun. I, too, saw employees at two big chain stores, the Big Y and CVS, in full costume Thursday, enjoying the holiday with each other and customers.
Some of them, like the witch who checked me out of the Big Y, had their faces completely obscured.
They need to loosen up at the Crystal Mall. Don't some people conceal their face as a religious observance? Isn't the face of the mall's own Santa obscured? The Easter Bunny?
I don't blame Ferace at all for deciding he won't ever shop there again.
I'll bet the parent confronted in his jester costume isn't laughing either.
This is the opinion of David Collins.