The introduction of Mischief Night to the United States is often attributed
to Irish and Scottish immigrants who immigrated here during and after the Irish
Potato Famine of 1845. Along with the tradition itself, they also popularized
the folklore that the night’s pranks and “tricks” were the
work of fairies, goblins and other mystical creatures that came out of hiding
around the time of Halloween each year. As in the United Kingdom, Mischief Night
is followed by the more well-known Halloween practice of trick-or-treating on
Devil’s Night in Detroit A more sinister version of Mischief Night developed in the city of Detroit during the aftermath of the 1967 riots. Starting in the early 1970’s, street gangs in the city’s low-income neighborhoods would commit rampant acts of arson and vandalism on the night of October 30th, using the violence as a means to exact revenge on the government and the powers-that-be. It was around this time that Mischief Night in Detroit was increasingly dubbed “Devil’s Night.” The worst of Devil’s Night destruction occurred in the mid to late ‘80s, peaking in 1984 when more than 800 fires were set. The situation did not significantly ameliorate until the mid 1990s when local government finally took action to bring the night of October 30th under control. The day of November 5th in the United Kingdom is a celebration similar to Halloween known “Guy Fawkes Day” in celebration of that same day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic protester against the protestant state, was caught trying to blow up British Parliament and was subsequently drawn and quartered. The holiday is marked by fireworks and bonfires on which "Guy" dolls are burned in effigy. The eve of November 5th is also known as Mischief Night and celebrated by children and youth playing tricks on adults. Easily the most notorious stunt in Mischief Night history, the October 30, 1938 Orson Welles radio adaptation of the novel “War of the Worlds” created widespread panic when people mistook the fictional broadcast for actual evidence that Martians were invading the planet. The incident was followed by widespread public outrage and suspicions that Welles purposefully misled his listeners.