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Monday, October 24, 2011

New Meaning to a Frightful Halloween

Wonder whatever happened the Halloween’s you cherished as a kid? Until my latest discovery, they sure have been a far cry from the good old days I remember from my past.  I may have found America’s favorite spot for Halloween.  And, a scary one, to say the least.

As a kid, Halloween was one of the best days all year - second only to Christmas.  I remember planning my costume for months, picking out the best neighborhoods with the greatest propensity for the best candy.  As soon as school got out, my friends and I would converge and we’d spend hours getting into our costumes and plan the nights’ festivities. 

Some of the greatest memories of my past Halloweens were those homes that went all out with decorations.  Some homes set up little spook houses you’d have to meander through to get the prized candy.  The ones with the fishing line tied to the ceiling that would brush up against your cheek as you walked by.  Maybe it was a bowl of slim with eyeballs in it that you’d have to put your hand in before any treats.  I remember a scarecrow sitting on a bench that would literally come to life and lurch towards you as you’d approach the doorstep.  Ah, those were the days. 

One thing I have noticed is Halloween in Arizona is different.  People get into here much more so than other places I’ve lived.  But, it’s still a far cry from my youth.  I may have had a dozen (at most) little guys come to my door this past year in Scottsdale
Having temps well north of  -2° outside surely may make Arizona evenings more conducive for a memorable Halloween.  Take a look at one Arizona spot that really gets into the spirit.  Haunted spirits, too.

Prescott, Arizona is known for a lot of things.  There’s always some sort of an event going on or an exhibit on display down at the Square, but at Halloween time, one particular street in town may make the top 10 list in all of America

Take a glimpse at
Mt. Vernon Avenue
.  Halloween on Mt. Vernon has been a tradition going back many years.  Maybe the old, turn-of-the-century historic homes with paranormal sightings and haunted out buildings has something to do with it. 

I was talking with a Mt. Vernon homeowner the other day – Ralph - and he warned me about what happens on Mt. Vernon each and every Halloween.  And trust me, it scared the **** out of me.

Hundreds – make that thousands - of ghosts, goblins, Barbie’s and Harry Potter’s converge on this quaint little street in quintessential Americana.

I had heard Mt. Vernon was the place to be, but he helped clear any cob webs from my thoughts.  He said every year is grander than the last and shared his experience of last year, 2010.

The tradition of Halloween on Mt. Vernon goes back years.  The historic mansions and bungalows have long been favored as “the” street for any holiday and Halloween is no exception.  The city closes the street off to traffic and people from all over – literally – spend the evening along Mt. Vernon.  Years ago, the city would help subsidize the residents of
Mt. Vernon Avenue
with treats, but that is no longer the case.  Homeowner’s enthusiastically support the tradition on their own and do so with open arms.

Mt. Vernon homeowner’s go all out with decorations and treats.  So much so, I've seen tour buses driving past as their passengers gawked at the homes.  You'd think you were in Beverly Hills or something.  Nope, this is Prescott's Mt. Vernon Avenue.  Giant spiders reach out with their hairy arms as you approach the sidewalk, witches invite you to bob for apples in huge pots with steam bubbling up from the ground.  Ghosts play Ring-a-around the Rosy and eerie music is piped from a head stone.  Pickett fences are dressed in cob webs, or scarecrows, or skulls.  Orange lights twinkle in the bushes.  Ghosts sway from the trees.  Each home is an experience and no two are alike.  And even better, the candy is said to be biggest and the best in all of Arizona.  We’re not talking the bite-size morsels you get in a 2 pound bag, either. 

Last year, Ralph posted a sign at the front door of his historic Craftsman bungalow saying they would accept callers from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  It said that he and his wife were enjoying a family dinner together prior.  The hands swept to 7 o’clock, the door hardly could shut.

His advise to me:  “Shop at Costco, don’t skimp and plan on spending about $500”.  I laughed.  I thought he must take stand-up comedy lessons from the same place Kyle surely goes.  Guess not.

Ralph went on to say, last year, between the posted hours, he and his wife greeted 3,462 trick or treaters.  Some people had more than he did as they weren’t adhering to restricted hours.  Ralph spent over $500 at Costco and still ran out of treats before lights were out at 9.  "We counted 'em," he said.

Talk about a frightening Halloween!  That’s down right S-C-A-R-Y!

Imagine, over 3,000 sweets.  Even at a quarter a piece, that’s $865, and he didn’t have enough candy because he ran out.  It’s hard to fathom that much candy.  That’s a small loan for many folks!  Maybe the local dentists should step up and help out this year!

So, if you’re walking the streets of Mt. Vernon this Halloween, do me a favor.  Tell who ever greets you at their door how much you appreciate all they do to make Mt. Vernon such a special and memorable place.  They’re the ones keeping the spirit(s) alive and we need to applaud them for their generosity.

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