The temperatures are starting to drop. The leaves are turning those absolute perfect shades of orange, yellow and red. The Boise Halloween Lights Map is back. Spooky season is in full swing! 

The Treasure Valley is BIG on Halloween fun, but even with the number of haunted houses, corn mazes and pumpkin patches you can visit, trick-or-treating is still one of the best loved family traditions. As a parent, you probably have a list of rules for your kids before turning them loose to collect their huge haul of candy. Only go to homes with their lights on. Stay on the sidewalk between houses. Don’t go into strangers’ houses. And most importantly, don’t eat any candy until you get home and we can check it to make sure it’s safe. 

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But what if you’re not going trick-or-treating with the kids and you’re the one handing out candy at home? While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, you may want to note the color of the candy pail your trick-or-treaters are carrying. 

What Does a Blue Pumpkin Pail Mean?

About four years ago, a post from a mom in Hawaii went viral on Facebook. She shared that her three-year-old son is on the autism spectrum and is non-verbal, which means he’s unable to yell an enthusiastic “trick-or-treat” when neighbors come to the door. She was stunned that during their first trick-or-treating outing, there were adults who wouldn’t give her son a piece of candy because he didn’t say those magic words. That’s why she decided that he’d carry a blue pumpkin pail to signify that he was autistic and unable to communicate the same way that other kids his age may. 


Blue is one of the colors associated with autism awareness. The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is one of Autism Speaks’ biggest advocacy events in April. This mom hoped that the blue pumpkin pails could start a conversation about acceptance and understanding and the idea spread thanks to social media. She and other moms were inspired by the widely known Teal Pumpkin Project promoted by Food Allergy Research and Education, which has officially designated teal buckets as a sign that a child has a food allergy and would enjoy a non-food treat like bubbles, stickers, etc. 

Not Everyone Loves the Blue Pumpkin Idea

If you read through the comments section of previous articles about blue pumpkin pails and autism, not everyone loves the idea of the blue pail. Some parents have been vocal about the fact that the idea of carrying a blue pail labels their child, when they’re just trying to be themselves and enjoy the holiday. 

Snopes debunked a blue pumpkin as being a “universal symbol” for kids on the autism spectrum and said “Carrying a blue bucket while trick-or-treating is not a widely recognized symbol for people with autism.”

What Can Idahoans Learn from This?

Because blue pumpkin posts have been so viral, there are people who expect homeowners to know that a blue pumpkin pail is a symbol of autism awareness. They feel relieved that they don’t have to explain why their child may not say “trick-or-treat.” Others find Autism Speaks highly controversial and don’t approve of the idea at all. 

Children in Halloween costumes

We don’t have a child on the autism spectrum, so we can’t take a position. We will, however, encourage families to make the decision that works best for their child…who, afterall, is the most important part of this conversation. 

If you’re an adult handing out candy, we encourage you to show kindness to anyone who shows up at your door looking for candy. Kids, teens, adults, costumed characters, non-costumed folks. Go ahead and give everyone a piece of candy. In the grand scheme of things, they’re choosing to participate in a safe, fun and positive Halloween activity instead of something less wholesome. 

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