Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween has come and gone...

Halloween 2006 was a mixed bag of tricks and treats. As has become customary I took the day off to get prepared for trick or treaters and to give them some eye candy. Last year was tragic as my father had passed away on Halloween...a cruel joke to somehow give a new meaning to Halloween for me.

The kids were ready early with their costumes on, a cheerleader and a monkey. I dropped my eldest off at school. A call came in from Dr. Rochelle Santopoalo, one of my dearest Halloween friends (Our Halloween Den-Mother). Halloween wouldn't be complete without speaking with her. Afterwards the baby and I tooled around town for a spell before I had to get home for, of all things, a conference call. After the call was over (and the baby was asleep) I began getting my Halloween props out and filling the entrance of my house with the Pumpkinland backdrop and the many electric jack-o-lanterns I've purchased over the many years. The Pumpkin men began guarding Pumpkinland while my Witch watched over the driveway from a window above. A skeleton man watched the front door and soon the decorations were complete (fog machine, strobe lights, scary music and all).

After a quick school pick-up trip (and a chance to check out the Halloween dance at the school) we made our way back home to prepare for trick or treating and trick or treaters. We decided to make a quick trip around our neighborhood first. As we made our rounds we spoke with many of our new neighbors (this being our first Halloween in Castro Valley) only to find that the turnout on our block has been less than thrilling over the past several years. Average numbers were in the low teens which blew my mind. When we lived in San Leandro we'd get 300 - 500 kids. An older lady who lives nearby said that years ago hundreds of kids would come, but now it is not unusual to have only a few kids. She looked sad as she told me this. I started feeling a little goofy for going all out with the decorations, but then I realized that for the kids that would come to Pumpkinland and for my family it is totally worth it. I decided that next year I'd go bigger and be a beacon on my street bringing kids back into the neighborhood. The look on the faces of the kids that came by and the ones that live amidst Pumpkinland was priceless. All in all we had around 15 kids come by and the "ooohhs" and "aaahhs" always bring a smile to my face.

After the numbers dwindled (which didn't take long) we drove around to some of the more decorated neighborhoods and did some trick or treating before calling it a night and going home.

Halloween 2006 was a bit mixed. It was the anniversary of my Father's passing. It was the first Halloween in my new house. It was my baby's first Halloween. A mixed bag of tricks and treats.

Mark Harvey
Looking forward to Halloween 2007!
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