...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hallo Weening

I am not a big fan of celebrating Halloween. Yes, I loved Trick or Treating when I was a kid. Mostly I liked the creativity in making my own costumes. Oh yeah, I LOVED the candy too! I can remember my brother Rick and I scattering our goodies all over the living room floor and swapping for our favorites.

Let me see... I remember being a witch once. My mother made me a costume out of black paper that looked really cool! All the fringe would blow around as I moved. What wasn't cool, was that it rained that year and I came home covered in black streaks. But the candy was worth it.

I also made a costume once using one of my mother's old fur coats. (Hmmm, I think it is at least two bears atm!) I was a cat and I used a hanger covered in a tube of fur that I actually sewed together. It was a pain, because the tail kept swinging around the front or drooping on the ground. Then there was the year I tried to duplicate my older brother's costume of a scarecrow. The broom stick on my shoulders didn't go through doors too well. How did he do that???

In the non-creative years, I was a hobo and just covered my face with burnt cork. I was a teen by this time and just wanted the excuse to run around at night and get the candy. Oh, but one year my best friend Ann and I did ourselves up based on the current James Bond movie that was at the theater. I can't remember if it was Live and Let Die. We blackened our faces on one side and put white make-up on the other. Halloween fell on a Saturday night and her mom insisted we go to mass before she would let us trick or treat so we decided to have fun with it. We went to church in costume. All through the service we would either turn our faces toward each other or away from each other every time the priest looked up so he would either see our black side or our white side. We could hardly contain our laughter....I have no idea what the sermon was on that night, but we had done what we were told!

Then... I had kids.
Bryan in an early costume (I dread this one, today)
Bryan was 10 months old and crawling on his first Halloween. I put him in his brown footsie pajamas and tacked on a cotton wad tail and he was my little bunny that first year. The next year I took a pillowcase and cut a three holes in it and slipped it over his head and pulled his arms through; cut him a rope belt and folded another pillowcase for his hood and, wallah, he was a monk. (Too bad the only pillowcases I had were pink!)

Aaron as his favorite character.
He still loves cats!
The best costumes I made were the Garfield cat for Aaron
and the Clown costume that was worn by both Bryan and Aaron and Dan's train Engineer that I just had to put together.

Dan our Engineer loved trains.
We have no idea what the finger signals mean.
Private Dan in PJ's
Other times, pajamas helped!

In Glasco, where the boys grew up, the children didn't go door to door Trick or Treating. We found this out the first year we went around. Everyone still gave out candy, but they all mentioned that there was a party at the firehouse for the kids to do instead. So the next year we headed for the firehouse to check it out. There were lots of people, lots of donuts, and lots of kids milling around in costume. No games! No contests! Then they announced the parade would begin. These poor kids walked around in a circle numerous times so "judges" could pick the winners for the most creative, cutest, scariest, or whatever category they decided on. Then the kids won silver dollars or fifty-cent pieces. I don't know if they have changed it over the years, because we never went back. This was too lame compared to the parties we had when I was a kid, so we headed to other neighborhoods to find our treats.

I recall just a few challenges at our parties were: bobbing for apples, eating a donut off a string hanging from the ceiling with your hands behind your back, balloon on a spoon races, sitting on a balloon to try and pop it. Aaah, so much fun! I don't remember the prizes, but I am sure they were more in line with what kids want.

In later years, I wanted to get away from the demonic side of the celebration and started a Fall Family Festival at our church. I had so much fun creating various rooms for the different age groups to have an age appropriate challenge where they could win fun prizes. Sure we had tons of cupcakes, cookies (and donuts) and cider, no fall festival would be complete without them.

I created a Feely Meely House out of a refrigerator box and cut out special doors that you could reach in and feel sheep eyeballs (peeled grapes), monster brains (tripe), and all kinds of other ewwie, gooie stuff. All the attenders were asked to dress up -- but not in scary costumes.

I too, dressed up, once as a Geisha girl (complete with chopsticks in my blackened hair) and once as a Teen of the Times, with baggy jeans, t-shirt, flannel shirt, work-boots and a ring in my nose. Did I mention I was the church secretary at the time? The kids kept asking me, "Mrs. Bell, is that real?" to which I replied, "Of course it is!" Then my boss -- a.k.a. pastor of the church -- caught sight of me and said, "Please tell me that isn't real." to which I winked and said, "Yeahahahahahah!" What fun we all had during these festivities. The entry fee to get in was  bag of candy and we made up gift bags for everyone to take home. It was a wonderful safe alternative to the sinister (or boring) Halloween celebrations.

Elijah following in his father's footsteps!
Nowadays I may go to my sister's house or a friend's to hand out candy and see what characters come by.

We live too far from our grandson's to participate.

But Bryan is carrying on the old tradition, much to the chagrin of his wife, by carving some very creative pumpkins
and getting dressed up in his own costume...

only problem -- is he uses the same one over and over each year!

Nowadays, all three sons attend local hauntings in their respective towns to see if anyone can scare them and see what creative juices are flowing this time of year.

Jim and I did something different ourselves this year and visited Cortlandt Manor's Blaze.

What a fantastic night it turned out to be. We drove about an hour and a half toward NYC to Croton-on-Hudson to see more than 4000 pumpkins carved in every imaginable shape and form...
The manor of the VanCortlandt family.
 Keep in mind, these are all carved pumpkins lit with candles or Christmas lights.

It take 1000's of volunteers to carve them (mostly college and high school students.)

It runs for 17 nights throughout October with four different tours each night. With more than 400 people at each tour, they do a phenomenal job keeping the traffic and people moving.
(Be sure to double click on the photo to see the detail.)

Then there are multiple pumpkins used to create huge three dimensional characters throughout the grounds of the estate. It was a sight to see!


Not sure we can top this. Though the kids would love to take us through the haunted hayrides and parks they go to each year, I am not sure these old hearts of ours could take too much of that excitement.
Till next year...

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