Picture it: the wind's blowing, and it has that crisp, cool bite of fall.
Your tummy's been in an excited knot all afternoon, and when the sun drops below the horizon and the stars rise, the wind starts whistling through the leaves, hissing and moaning and giving you chills.
Down the street the flickering lights of jack o' lanterns illuminate ghoulish faces.
Finally, your mother calls out, "Time to go trick-or-treating!"
Never miss a local story.
Yes! The words you've been waiting for all day!
At 10, nothing matters more on Halloween than trick-or-treating.
Fast-forward 10 or 15 years. Halloween is no longer as simple or idyllic: People start looking funny at you if you show up for candy wearing a sheet with eye holes cut out.
So, what exactly are UC Merced 20-somethings up to on the much-loved holiday?
Many students are planning to head out of town. Why?
Rich Inman, a senior, shot back, "Because what am I going to do in Merced? I'm leaving town, because everyone else is leaving town."
Most students plan to hit such well-known college party towns as Chico, where the students of Chico State make Halloween a night to remember.
Or Santa Barbara, specifically to a famous -- or infamous -- street in Isla Vista: Del Playa ("D.P.," to habitues).
It's a veritable mecca of celebration and debauchery where the parties are rowdy and often scantily clad people are literally dancing in the streets.
High on the list was Monster Massive. The night-long fete transforms the Los Angeles Sports Arena Grounds & Exposition Park into a haunted world with light shows and high-profile house and trance artists spinning from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Other UC Merced students made plans to travel to nearby cities and revisit their inner child at such places as Hobbs Grove in Fresno, a Halloween-packed haunt. It includes a haunted house, a haunted forest walk and haunted hay rides, all of which are sure to bring out a childish scream in anyone.
However, for those staying in Merced, there's still plenty to do: the Partisan, on Main Street, is opening its doors to Halloween revelers at its "Thriller Halloween Costume Party," where they'll be serving up glowing, ghoulish drinks all night.
It isn't hard to see that for Merced's 20-somethings, the focus of Halloween has shifted over the years from Snickers to skin, from Bazooka bubble gum to booze.
One constant: Everybody's going to dress up in costume.
Brittany Best is a senior at UC Merced from Moorpark majoring in psychology with a minor in writing.