A night for treats in Woodlands, as American families welcome locals for Halloween

SINGAPORE - The rain could not keep them at bay. Armed with umbrellas and pitchforks, witches' hats and masks, costumed revellers descended upon the Woodgrove landed estate Saturday evening for some Halloween trick-or-treating - a tradition that has been going on in the estate for at least a decade.

"My favourite part is the candy," said seven-year-old Soh Xuan Yi, who came dressed as a pirate. Her family and their friends had come all the way from Bukit Batok to join in the festivities.

Many of those handing out treats were families from the United States, whose children attend the nearby Singapore American School.

"It's a nice way to be able to give back to Singapore, a tradition of ours," said this year's main event coordinator Casey Shirley, 37, who has lived here for about three years. She heard that the very first Woodgrove Halloween involved just 30 families.

"It's exploded into what it is now," said Mrs Shirley, a stay-at- home mother of five.

More than 100 families took part this year.

Mrs Angie Bennick, 42, recalled that there were already some 2,500 to 3,000 trick-or-treaters at the first Woodgrove Halloween she attended when she moved to Singapore eight years ago.

The crowd hit an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 last year.

This year's crowd was smaller due to the rain but still numbered in the thousands, based on families' estimates of the number of sweet treats handed out.

Mother of four Deb Werner, 48, said: "It's so fun to see, and it's just neat to share an American tradition with Singapore."

Some families came to give rather than receive. Businessman Sam Lim, 50, drives to the estate every Halloween to distribute goodies.

"A lot of children enjoy this fun occasion and it's nice to be a part of this," he said in Mandarin, as his children doled out tidbits and trinkets from the boot of his car.