Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween on Leawood

Duncan and I ventured down to Hero's Pets this evening to participate in their first annual costume contest. Like an idiot I didn't manage to get any pictures but Chelsea assured me she'll send me copies of hers. I'll post them when they come.

When I was a kid Halloween seemed like a throwaway event, something quick and easily forgotten, a one-night-stand holiday, something to tide us over until Christmas. Every now and then people decorated, but mostly with a simple jack-o-lantern and maybe a scarecrow propped up next to the front door. If someone really got into it they'd toss their speakers in the window and play a scary noises–rattling chains, creaking doors, zombie moans, that sort of thing–but that was about it. The rest of the fun was left up to the kids, who congealed into a candy-seeking mass and roamed our neighborhoods long after we were supposed to be in bed. As short-lived as it was, it was our night, which even in the 70's and 80's was nothing compared to what kids did back at the turn of the century, when they actually vandalized property and set fires in the street (see the film, Meet Me in St. Louis, for a great depiction of this) Now days, though, Halloween has become the new Christmas, with all sorts lights–be they string or strobe–and cobwebs, spiders and monsters, lawn ornaments and much more. The kids and their costumes seem the least important part of it. Halloween has become a bizarre "Keeping-up-with-the-Bones'" ritual. The adults have taken over and I'm not quite sure what I think of it. Every year it seems to get worse and the only explanation I have is that the big box marts finally brainwashed the American public into believing they needed to celebrate this way.

That said, I do have to admit that on our walk down Leawood, Duncan and I did stumble upon the most amazing house. Outside of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. An enormous faux wrought iron fence had been erected along the sidewalk, complete with gargoyle-topped pillars and a heavy chain. The entire yard had been filled with headstones and some looked as though actual graves had been dug under them, with arms and other body parts sticking out of the earth. One of the headstones actually rocked back and forth and a voice came from under it, calling out, "Who's there? Help me! Somebody please, help me!" All sorts of animatronic creatures had been stashed in the trees and under the hedges, with glowing red eyes or wings that flapped. It seems pirates are all the rage, so of course, pirate clad skeletons had been set up, along with pirate flags and treasure chests. Many of the trees were covered in cobwebs and enormous spiders and centipedes crawled along their trunks and branches. Strobes lights flashed along the front steps and ghoulish music, accompanied by the heart-warming sounds of a torture chamber played from some well-hidden stereo system. We sat and stared for several minutes and I think even Duncan was transfixed. Or perhaps he was simply keeping an eye out for rabbits.

But despite all this, we didn't see a single child in costume. Does any of the decor make sense without the kids to stand in awe of it?


Erik said...

Hey Curt. We met last night at Hero's. I wanted to remind you about that site: and more specifically, National Novel Writing Month.

I notice in your post from last night, you mention walking down Leawood. Do you live in the Leawood neighborhood? I am on S Lamar.

It was nice to meet you and Duncan.


Curt Rogers said...


It was great to chat last night. Thanks for checking the blog and for the reminder. I'll have to look at it tonight.

Send me your email address some time so we can chat again.

Erik said...
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