Last year the brothers were too new to America to know about Halloween. This time, Bill and Igey were determined to dress up. After weeks of unsuccessfully lobbying their parents for costume money, they decided to make their own. One old bed sheet transformed Bill, 10, into a classic ghost, and Igey, 8, into a passable ninja.
For their first year of trick-or-treating, the boys joined forces with a group of Bill's soccer teammates and their younger siblings, many of them fellow first-timers.
"I'm a little nervous," confessed Bill's friend Lagos, a usually cool fourth grader from the Republic of the Congo, as he donned his rotting corpse outfit.
But as the miracle of free candy unfolded on strangers' lighted porches, the kids cast aside their unease and swept across the lawns: capes, wings, and bed sheets flapping.
"Thank you!" Lagos called over his shoulder to a particularly generous house. "This rocks!" he yelled, bolting down the block.
As the nine kids raced from house to house, mobbing front stoops and elbowing for position, Dante, an American-born fifth-grader and veteran trick-or-treater, grew frustrated.
"They don't understand Halloween," he said, "how you're supposed to walk and say and share. Somebody needs to tell them there's enough candy for everybody."
Maybe next year. For now, Bill's most lasting Halloween lesson seems to be a new great love: Giant Pixy Stix.