Hot dogs set house apart on Halloween

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Nico Savidge
Friday, November 1, 2013

JANESVILLE—Hannah Halverson and Kennedy Cox ducked under a blue tent in front of the house on North Adams Street, escaping steady rain that had dampened costumes all around them Thursday night.

Both 14, and both dressed as baseball players, the pair had shared intelligence on the best spots for trick-or-treating.

They had already hit up the houses on Columbus Circle for their full-size candy bars, and now they were stopping by the home of Tom and Lori Hathaway, who were serving up hot dogs.

“The first time I was really confused,” Halverson said.

After all, police have been warning kids for decades not to take anything but wrapped candy from a stranger.

But Halverson lived in the neighborhood and had been to the hot dog house, as it's now known, on previous Halloweens. So she and Cox stepped up to get one, taking a break from candy and rain for a few minutes.

Tom Hathaway got the idea to give out Halloween hot dogs from his sister in Fort Atkinson, who herself took over the tradition from some elderly neighbors.

Hathaway brought the tradition to his neighborhood five years ago, and admits they got a few wary looks from parents and kids the first time they did it.

By Thursday, however, the tradition had been well-established around the neighborhood.

Tom and Lori Hathaway served up dogs with a full slate of condiments available. Parents could help themselves to a beer from a nearby cooler, and everyone could warm themselves by a fire—though the rain was making it a bit smoky.

A soundtrack of howling wolves and other spooky Halloween noises played in the background, while Barry, an actual black cat, occasionally looked out from the door.

If anyone was concerned about the hot dogs, there was a bowl of regular candy too.

“We don't get that look any more,” Hathaway said.

Ralph Bock and his son, 9-year-old Trey, had no such hesitation.

This is the third year they've come to Hathaway's home on the trick-or-treating route through their neighborhood, Bock said.

When he's not serving hot dogs, Hathaway is a mail carrier for his part of town and gets to know residents like Bock. As he walked up for a dog, Hathaway greeted Bock not by name, but by address.

“It's really nice that somebody takes the time to do this for the neighborhood,” Bock said.

Hathaway also used the night to promote a charity drive he hosts every year at his home, handing out flyers to parents as they led their kids to dogs and candy.

When one man offered to pay for his meal, Hathaway refused—and asked him to remember the charity drive for the future.

The rain meant Hathaway cooked up fewer dogs Thursday night: 100, down from about 175 last year.

Cox offered her opinion on the weather in the form of a thumbs-down. Asked if that would force them to cut short their trick-or-treating, though, Halverson gave an are-you-kidding type of laugh.

“Nope,” she said.

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