BOO on the Block 2021

My wife will not let me scare the children arriving at our door (or at the end of our candy shoot) on Halloween. The number count of Trick or Treaters is very important to her, and my shenanigans would certainly cut into the return visitors. Young toddlers on their first outing have been known to freak out at seeing our talking skulls.

But in my defense, I was raised to put my full heart and soul into the evening. As a kid I took on heavy subjects, e.g. I was Death Behind The Wheel one year. “That,that,that,that,that boy needs therapy. He was white as a sheet….’ (Avalanches song “Frontier Psychiatrist”)

As a teen in NYC, I would set up the entrance way of our apartment to haunt the hallway and scare the visitors. I hid under a table covered in white fabric and my hand was IT, rising out of a black box to beckon the guests to enter at their peril. Behind me was a white sheet, and the shadow of a figure hanging from a noose. And with each door bell ring, my mother would start up a horrifying cackle at the other end of the hall. I muffled my chortles as I viewed the petrified looks from the young initiates.

With a new home in Seattle, Michele and I attempted to lure kids up our three flights of stairs to the front door. Results were dismal. Then we improved the staging and added full size candy bars. If you build it, they will come. And they came. Increasing in numbers every year, with older sibs coming to our door to introduce their young initiates to the treasures in store at our door.

Michele had the brilliant idea to create stage sets relating to scary stories from literature and history. She designed and assembled parts, and I added a few heads and some miscellaneous features.

Staging the displays has now become a block wide event, with neighbors pitching in, not just to host a scene but add lighting, canopies, and individual artistic flair. And two new sets – the Witch House and the Swamp added to the delights:

This year was a particular challenge since we set up prior to the BIG BOMB CYCLONE. King Henry VIII’s executioner keeled over from overindulgence in mead, and Mary Queen of Scots was doing loop to loops, looking a little like Moaning Myrtle in Hogwarts Castle. The rats on Miss Havisham’s wedding banquet table went scurrying every which way. Plastic flowers scattered with each gust. And finally after 2.5 inches of rain, the canopy collapsed around her. In spite of all that crap going on around her, Miss Havisham held her own.

Now we have competing organizers down the block who are planning their Halloween event on the day before…AND in the Daylight! That is just sacrilege. Bad enough that the business community ran a candy event during daylight hours in years prior to Covid. How can any costumed trick or treaters spook anyone when the sun is out? There is a pernicious undertow of wokeness eroding the sanctity of the whole celebration. Given all the dread that has seeped into children’s consciousness during Covid, perhaps we should loosen up and let them mock the darkness and evil spirits, and take control of the night.

Miss Havisham sits alone in the twilight
King Henry VIII and a few of his wives as back-up
The Headless Horseman rides again
Frida Kahlo in all her gory glory
Plus Ghosts and Ghouls

I shaped the heads (amazing what one can do with styrofoam heads) and carved the pumpkins:

Photo courtesy of Debbie Anderson

After a scrumptious Pancake Breakfast with neighbors (I made sourdough and also buckwheat buttermilk pancakes, folding in the whipped egg whites with care.) This was a tradition that was put on hold due to COVID. Then on to the finishing touches for our Halloween presentation – wrapping the candy shoot, stringing lights and cutting up the pumpkins.

Amazingly we had record turnout. Kids loved the Candy Shoot. (Full size bars have the best momentum.) So until next year…have a delightful, frightful time and slay the darkness.

About Whittoons

Cartoonist, and community organizer who has covered the globe as a doodlebugger, gandydancer, supernumerary steward, Able Bodied Seaman, Wireman, monkey man, Night Baker and dishwasher, Hobo, hitchhiker and husband.
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