October 13, 2004

Halloween Traditions

When I was younger I would get dressed up every Halloween, walk with my parents around town, pilfer the county’s candy supplies, then gorge myself on the spoils until I nearly induced vomiting. Most of my costumes were admittedly lame K-mart plastic masks of Bugs Bunny and Pac-Man, but that was besides the point. The matter at hand was always candy… well, candy, and being able to stay up late eating candy. Sure I remember Christmases and unwrapping presents, but there was always something more to Halloween. As holidays go, Halloween always fit more with my general persona. Halloween is a holiday built around fear, taking, and assorted mischiefs. It has always resonated with me. It always was exhilarating to be scared as a child (that safe kinda scared, like when your brother is waiting to jump out from behind a bush and give you a wedgie), then more than ever, with my youthful imagination still fully intact and untouched by the purported real-world, monsters and ghosts were real… and for one night out of the year, they were everywhere.

When I got a bit older (let’s say Junior High), I was slightly more destructive than I am currently. My friends and I would leave the house with our parents under the assumption we were going out trick-or-treating, though most times we were planning more nefarious deeds. Sometimes this would mean a Devil’s Scavenger Hunt (no real significance to the name… just a mood setter) which comprised of us going out with all the other Halloweenies, but instead of getting candy, we would collect items from people’s house’s and yards. Sometimes this meant going inside under the notion of trick-or-treating… only to have us walk away with some random objects from people’s houses; magazines, pumpkins, umbrellas, mailboxes, garden gnomes, and anything else within reach. The year I dressed as a burglar worked especially well, having the assistance of an all-black costume and a full sized crowbar (perfect for “scooping” pumpkins up off of walkways nonchalantly or while in mid-sprint away from a keen eyed candy-giver). Needless to say, I really do miss those days. After I stopped trick-or-treating, I had to find new ways to celebrate.

When I was in college, I landed a job at a Haunted House. Well, it was actually at a water park, but it was still quite creepy because of all the old clown statues (don’t ask) that took on a much more sinister guise at night. I worked there for two years, and as it stands, I can honestly say there are few things in this world more fun than making people scream. The “House” portion was actually an old storage barn. I would usually climb up and hop along the rafters waiting for people to come in. When larger parties came through I would shadow them from above, then drop down somewhere in the middle of the group. It’s amazing how willing people’s friends are to remain silent when they know their friends are about to get scared. I would silently step into the middle of a group from behind, maybe between a couple, everyone’s eyes facing forward looking for the next scare. When that scare came, it was usually my arm they jumped to grab… only to realize that I was not their boyfriend or girlfriend. Yes, it’s sick, but oh so much fun.

Sometimes I can’t wait to have kids just so that I can torment them. Now my Halloweens are a bit more mundane, but I still love getting in the spirit (so to speak) of things. I will post some of my favorite seasonal films, albums, book, and miscellanea soon. For now, tell me some of your Halloween memories. What were/are your Halloween Traditions?

Commentary (10):

1. Stu Schaff says… oct 13, 2004 | 5:59 pm

For the last few years before I went off to college, I found myself outside my front door every Halloween in a self-made scarecrow costume, which effectively hid all of my skin. Anyone who has ever Tick-or-Treated knows where I am going with this, as there’s at least one guy like me in every neighborhood.

I would lie in wait very patiently until an unsuspecting group of trick-or-treaters came up to my door for a handout. Fairly often, they would look at me and then turn to each other and ask, “Is he real?” A few brave souls even took to poking me with the nearest sharp object. Amazingly, I never moved an inch. Until they got their candy from the bowl next to me, that is.

Suddenly, I would leap out of my spot and scream at the top of my lungs. I have never witnessed such fright in my life, and I am quite surprised that I didn’t give any of these kids their first heart attack.

Call me cruel, but I’d say that it’s all in the name of good clean fun!

2. JCRogers / Buddy13 says… oct 13, 2004 | 8:11 pm

I did the same thing once or twice. Never a scarecrow, but still.

One time I took advantage of the raked-up leaves near the porch, which was perfect because nobody suspected that one.

3. Adam says… oct 13, 2004 | 8:48 pm

I grew up with my Dad always making a fantastically large deal of Halloween. Every year we would have a big to-do at his house; one year he handed out candy as a mad scientist (dry ice, failed experiments, the whole bit), another year he used blue lights and a floating skull to scare the beejesus out of unsuspecting neighborhood kids. The cool thing is that everyone’s come to expect it, and he always tries to outdue himself - last year somewhere around … 500? 600? kids came.

Here’s some photos of what we did last year. You know, you’re everyday “alien crashed into the house and took over the family living inside” thing. We had a UFO made out of kiddie pools, smoke machines, an alien puppet and X-files music blaring. Good times. Good times.

4. Brady J. Frey says… oct 13, 2004 | 9:15 pm

I still go to a pumpkin patch every year, no matter what city I’ve lived in, and pick out a couple pumpkins — I love carving them up to something cool, and I guess that’s the designer in me.

Otherwise, it’s always a full painted devil, vampire, or something that I can be demonic and toy with young ladies all night.

5. niff says… oct 14, 2004 | 5:12 pm

wow! halloween. my mom is an amazing seamstress, and she always made the coolest intricate costumes of ANYTHING we wanted to be, from a red ant to a giant haunted house to corn on the cobb ( i seriously was all those things and more.) she was the lady in the nieghborhood who would make REAL costumes for all the unfornuate kids who had the walgreens kind.
we always went to the holloween parade and my siblings and i would always win 1st or 2nd place. there was a nieghborhood lady who always dressed as a witch and made cotton candy.

got older and worked at my towns “hauned barn” doing makeup…nothing like a good scream when the chainsaws come a howling.

i miss the good old days. i never did the distructive teenage thing…too much respect for the holiday of holidays.

wouldnt it be nice to be a kid again?

6. Sam Ryan says… oct 14, 2004 | 11:11 pm

I love to perform my variation on the scarecrow trick. The way I do it is to dress in black with an XXXL sweatshirt, and crouch in a dark corner (the side of a building or something), put the hood on, pull the sweater over my knees, and sit there like an unassuming garbage can or something until I detect people passing by. At that point, I scream at the top of my lungs, or make a similarly startling sound, without moving. Most of them don’t ever see me.

Evil is fun. However, I never destroy or steal people’s property (and yes, I am a teenager.) The risks seem to outweigh the benefits.

7. wayne says… oct 15, 2004 | 4:07 pm

my best halloween memories (and rob weychert’s as well, i’m sure) are of our cyo (that’s catholic youth organization for all you lucky non-cats out there) haunted houses. we used to set up a haunted house every year in the basement of our church.

we’d spend weeks planning and building, then we’d get to perform for the fine people of st. joseph’s church. we did some awesome stuff. until they closed us down for being too scary and offensive. which sucked. though i guess it’s hard to get more halloween cred than being banned by the catholic church.

8. Jason Santa Maria says… oct 15, 2004 | 4:17 pm

Yeah Niff, I used to be a much bigger asshole than I am now. I don’t steal and break people’s stuff anymore :D

There are some good stories here, and it seems I am not alone is taking pleasure in a good scare.

9. bearskinrug says… oct 16, 2004 | 8:28 am

I have this Halloween memory of the year my little brother Eddie went out trick-or-treating together. I remember we went to this one house, and there was this scarecrow right out front. So we pick up the closest sharp-object (I think it was a bucket), and poke it. But nothing happens.

Then, when we go to get the candy, the scarecrow jumps out and scares the hell out of us! Then, a couple houses down, my brother eddie had a heart attack.

If I ever find that sonofabitch scarecrow, I’ll kill em.

10. nick says… oct 18, 2004 | 4:30 pm

Ah yeah, good times. I enjoy a good Halloween - but somehow my wife makes my enjoyment of the ‘holiday’ pale (pun???) in comparison. She’s way into it, and it’s so much fun.

we’ve always done the pumpkin patch thing (especially with our 2 little boys now). I went as a hula girl LAST year (funniest part was when a minivan full of little hula girls walked by me and we had a costume in common…) only to find out that they weren’t letting adults (in or out of costume) in free anymore. But the lady let me in free anyway so I didn’t look like an idiot for nothing. lol

In high school, we would hand out condoms (concealed beneath the candy we put un trick or treater’s bags) to the kiddies…yeah, that was classy.
We would also build haunted houses in one of our garages. they weren’t great, but still pretty good considering what we had to work with. we got a pretty good following for a few years there.

gotta check this out if you like halloween (and techy) stuff: