In 2002 I moved into a newly developed neighborhood. We actually did our closing on Halloween. The following year I realized rather quickly that the participation in my neighborhood was rather dismal. At the time, my daughter was born just a little over a month after we closed on our house. A few years later, we found ourselves trick-or-treating in other well-established neighborhoods just to give our daughter the real experiences. I took note that this older neighborhood really went to great extent to give the kids that spooky halloween feel. Some things I noticed were that one person put one of those metal outdoor fire pits in their driveway and burned wood to give it that campfire smell all throughout the neighborhood. The adults handing out treats took the time to also dress up in costumes. There were houses that decorated in full fledged themes with live actors of things link a mad scientist laboratory, etc.
It has taken more than 10yrs to get my neighborhood to come around, but it seems like its on the right track. There are several stuck up retired old people that still screw up the process. Imagine going house to house and seeing a home with yard decorations for Halloween, porch lights on, garage lights lit on either side, sometimes even interior lights lit, only to discover that there's no one home. These people are so stuck on their lights being on to show off their home they don't even realize its implication for Halloween. Honestly, if toilet paper hadn't become so expensive, a healthy dose of eggs and TP would easily rectify the situation.
Just like a neighborhood association, a group of people dedicated to making a kickass neighborhood for halloween requires a community to coordinate. I would recommend mailing everyone in your neighborhood a good 45 days in advance and explain what you want to achieve, where it has gone wrong in the past, and what you think can be implemented to bring about that change. Make sure you ask for ideas to help get to where the neighborhood should be. My advice is to treat halloween like coordinating a big part, wedding, block party, etc. You need lots of other neighbors to decide to do it up too. Once you think you've got something worth going to (if you build it, they will come), contact your local paper to see if they will run a story. Once word gets around, your neighborhood could become one that other kids import themselves to.