The air is turning cooler and the leaves are changing colors. It is truly a magical time on the mountain. Along with this beautiful sight comes the buzz of all the fall activities. For children, and some adults, the highlight of these activities is Halloween. Costumes are planned, candy is chosen and houses are decorated well in preparation for the big night.
You never know what to expect of the weather on this outdoor holiday, and last year brought snow! Wasn’t that a surprise?
While one might not be able to predict the weather, there are some fun traditions that can be counted on. My family has been tricked the past couple of years by being “booed” by a mystery person. It is such a fun surprise to hear the doorbell ring and find a treat waiting for us on our doorstep. Our deliverer runs off into the night, leaving us to guess his or her identity. It then becomes our turn to “boo” three other houses. We assemble our treats and plan our surprise attacks. My children love the thrill of sneaking up to a friend’s house, quietly leaving the gift, ringing the doorbell and then dashing off before being seen.
The schools also get in on the fun, allowing students to dress up in their costumes, have class parties or give out goody bags. Thrasher Elementary hosts a Monster Mash party. The children come dressed in costumes ready to dance and indulge in tasty treats. Some churches also mark the holiday with a “trunk or treat” celebration. Families come with their car trunks decorated in the Halloween theme and everyone runs from vehicle to vehicle trick or treating.
Many neighborhoods, and even individual streets, have begun their own traditions as well. My family and I were lucky enough to be invited along to join in on a couple of these celebrations. On Chamblee Court in Hidden Brook, the neighbors gather in the cul-de-sac for food and fellowship before the night begins. There are games for the children and plenty of food and drinks for the young and old.
In Shepherd Forest there is a similar gathering. Neighbors congregate in a designated yard to socialize before the chaos begins. They then head out together to tackle the business of trick or treating.
Folks in St. Ives take a different approach, with one kind family opening its home to neighbors for a Halloween breakfast. They kick off the day by starting the celebration early, inviting the children to come dressed in their costumes and begin this candy-filled day with a little hearty substance. What a fun way to begin the day!
My family and I had our first experience trick or treating in Old Town last year, and I must say it was a blur of little monsters, princesses, super heroes running from house to house. We were told this is a popular spot for a couple of important reasons, one being that this neighborhood is flat and the houses are close together. Living on a mountain, the flat terrain can be difficult to find and the close proximity of the houses means more time for more houses, which leads to more candy. It is truly a sight to see, and the sound of laughter and screams are infectious.
A Halloween must-see on Signal Mountain is Phyllis Casavant’s house on Signal Mountain Boulevard. Phyllis’s son, Jay, began the tradition of decorating the house for Halloween when he was just 5 years old. Halloween is Jay’s favorite holiday, and over the years the scale of decorating grew as he did. Twenty-two years later, he now has a maze leading trick or treaters around the front yard to the door for candy and Slinkies, and stuffed animals.
Jay builds the maze and decorates the house two to three weeks before Halloween so it can be enjoyed for an extended time period. It takes him two to three days to complete this work of art (which he changes each year) and he averages 300 to 500 visitors a year. Adults who used to come as children are now bringing their own children for the experience.
Jay says he simply loves to see the smile this Halloween tradition puts on a child’s face and that is enough reward for him, which speaks volumes to the Casavant family’s generosity.
Halloween is a playful holiday where children and adults alike have an excuse to be silly, sneaky and creative. It is another reminder to me about the wonderful place where we live. Community is a priority, fellowship is fostered, family life is celebrated and children are encouraged to be children in a safe and loving environment. Traditions are important, no matter how trivial they may seem. I hope your family will continue your Halloween traditions and be inspired to begin some new ones.