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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Memories

I've always loved Halloween.  Unfortunately today I had to work and since we close late (7pm), I ran late, and I live 30 minutes from work, by the time I got home pretty much all of the trick-or-treating was over.  Bummer.  But I still have plenty of great memories.

For anyone who has followed me on this blog it should be obvious that I like costumes and what is called "cosplay".  Going to Dragon*Con and ConNooga in costume is one of the highlights of my year.  Halloween is the one time of the year that adults can get away with dressing up in cool outfits...unless you're geeks like my family.  So my love of such costumes extends from my interest in Halloween.

Growing up we had great times at Halloween.  My parents encouraged me dressing up and my mom made some great outfits.  Back then going trick-or-treating was a big deal and the streets were filled with kids walking around begging for candy.  Nowadays the streets are bare and it's nothing like it was.  I find that rather sad, as it made for some wonderful memories.

We would always dress up the house and yard in a big way, making it spooky and cool.  My parents would dress in costume just to pass out candy.  I remember one year when my dad hurt his ankle and couldn't move around much.  He dressed in a full mask, gloves, and clothes, and sat in a chair like a scarecrow or straw-stuffed dummy.  As kids walked near the door he would remain perfectly still, even holding his breath. When they got close and started to look at him he would suddenly reach out for them and yell.  It scared the heck out of them!  They thought he was just a decoration and didn't expect him to move!  It worked so well that a few years after that when I was a teenager I did the same thing.  I would sit in a chair on the porch and remain still in my mask and outfit (complete with straw sticking out of my sleeves!).  The kids would stare at me, wondering if I was real and trying to figure out if I was breathing.  I would jump up a them when a group was gathered, causing much screaming and running.  It was great!

The biggest event came one year in the '80s when my father and a couple of our adjoining neighbors got the idea to make a full haunted woods.  Our connecting properties had some woods in the yards, and they planned to have a path through it with skits and scares along the way.  This was a big thing that they planned and built for months.  We had a full-sized stretching rack made out of industrial cable spools, designed to be turned and click with an actress (one of the wives) laying on it pretending to be tortured.  We had a chicken-wire and plaster Dracula in a coffin, above whom a rubber bat was flying up and down mounted to a motor.  At one place we had built a full Frankenstein lab with a full-sized monster (also chicken-wire) on a table.  One of the neighbors played the part of the doctor while I played Igor and we had a short but full skit that involved a second monster bursting into the crowd.  My treehouse was a control station that had ropes opening a grave, moving a rocking chair (like an invisible man was in it), and other things without people seeing.  The climax at the end had a witch on a broom attached to a wire that would come swooping down over the crowd.  A walkie-talkie was placed in her so someone could cackle and talk to people as she flew over their heads.  The candy at the end was in a tray floating in a large cast-iron cauldron (an antique from my grandparents' house) with dry ice causing the water to bubble and smoke.  And among all of that we had people in costumes that were doing their own thing to scare visitors.  By the time people got to the end they were so scared and freaked out that many left without getting candy!  It was all free, done just for the fun of it.  They continued to do variations of this for a few years, and it was a blast!

Now some may say, "Wait, you're a conservative Christian.  How can you support and celebrate Halloween?"  I've addressed that issue for the past two years on my other blog, The Christian Ninjate, so check here and here for my views on that topic.  But to summarize, Halloween is about protecting against evil, not worshiping it.  And in modern times it's not even about that....it's about cool costumes and free candy!

Now that my kids are getting older they are wanting to do cool decorations at our house and make it spookier.  I hope I can give them great Halloween memories like my parents gave me.

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