By the end of elementary school, the idea of Halloween was put on the back burner for a few years. My next big Halloween memory came when I was in Grade 12 when Marla’s Halloween Party was the biggest event of the fall social calendar. Everybody that was anybody attended putting great effort into their costumes. Being on the tallest dudes in the Class of 74, it was only natural I dressed as the Jolly Green Giant. The funniest thing happened walking home from the party in the rain and some random guy comes up and wants to share my umbrella for a bit until he took one look at my green face and exclaimed “Whoa, dude, are you stoned?”.
Halloween lost most of its allure for the next fifteen or so years until my son, Bryan, (aka – The Crown Prince) came along. I have great memories of him and his cousin, Nick dressed in identical penguin costumes made lovingly by their grandmother. This is the only costume that I ever kept in hope that the one day the Crown Prince’s Crown Prince or Crown Princess will get to wear it one Halloween. Of course, as concerned parents we careful sifted through his haul of goodies separating out all those evil Mars and Snickers bars. Everyone knows that Mars and Snickers bars are the most tampered with Halloween candy. This is a fact because I read it somewhere on the internet. So parents should make the sacrifice and destroy them by chewing them thoroughly and swallowing. ‘Shut up, kid eat your delicious Halloween Kisses and Candy Corn.”
During the early 90’s while travelling in the States in early October, I began to notice a shift in the wind regarding this day. People in southern California were decorating their houses with all kinds of ghoulish paraphernalia and lights equalling those we would see at Christmas. It was a far cry from the hand carved Jack-o-Lantern we put out on the porch. This trend slowly crept northward over the next decade. Another Halloween tradition started about the same time in southern California; Halloween events at theme parks the first being at Knott’s Berry Farm or Scary Farm as it was renamed for the season in Buena Vista. My wife, Lorraine and I had the pleasure of having the crap scared out of us twice there.
We took possession of our townhouse here in North Vancouver by coincidence on All Saints Day in 1994. The night before we decided to drive by and make sure the tenants the previous owner had trouble convincing to move were indeed vacating. At the entrance road to the complex is a large green space shared by three equally large strata groups. We were delighted to find that the neighbours in the area were putting on a huge fireworks display. This was a tradition that continued for several years and was finally put to rest. Something about permits and a burning bush, go figure!
The following Halloween, Lorraine instigated our tradition of decorating for Halloween and started a friendly rivalry with our next door neighbour, Pam. This turned into an obsession for the two of them (and me) and developed into turning our little breezeway into a haunted tunnel complete with boiling cauldrons, creepy music and suffocating fog. A few years later, Mona moved across from us in our four unit square. My first question to her was “How do you feel about Halloween?” Her eyes lit up announcing she too was a ghoul junkie. Now our breezeway became the place to visit in our corner of the earth, getting crazier every year.