The signs are lurking around every corner, ready to pounce with a shouted, “Boo!” My kids have dotted the lawn with silly gravestones, and a plastic count with graying fangs greets us at our front door. There are cobwebs on my neighbor’s bushes and toilet paper floating in their trees.
Ah, yes, 'tis the season. The haunting season.
Actually, I don’t know when Halloween became a season. When I was in my “trick or treat” stage, Halloween was just one day—one very long day, marked with treks around our neighborhood, our friends’ neighborhoods, our grandparents’ neighborhoods and then, finally, whatever neighborhood had the latest curfew. We’d wear out sneakers and burst the seams on pillowcases in our never-ending pursuit of a full-size Hershey bar.
Now Halloween is more of an “autumn celebration,” not just a single day of candy-coated gluttony. As soon as there’s frost on the pumpkin we’re decorating our homes with black and orange, carving jack-o-lanterns and turning our front yards into makeshift cemeteries. After all, we can’t fit all the Halloween activities—pumpkin patch raids and hay rides, corn mazes and haunted houses—into one night. Well, not if we expect to continue with our mooching.
At our house, the Halloween season arrived this week. My husband dove into the depths of our garage to bring out the Rubbermaid totes full of decorations. Pictures of kids in costume through the years are displayed on the bookshelves, and our tablecloth is the requisite orange and black. As a co-room mom, I’ve been busy planning activities for Libby’s fourth grade class. Monster mash bingo, anyone?
On Friday, we joined Libby’s Girl Scout troop at Duffield's Farm, where autumn was on full and beautiful display. We took a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, filling ourselves with the freshly-mown smells and the sight of the sun painting the sky to match the field of orange gourds. The evening was the epitome of a Mid-Atlantic autumn, full of girls in sweatshirts, rows of pumpkins just waiting to be carved, and hot chocolate in paper cups. We ended the night in the museum of scarecrows, coming face to face with the likes of Frankenstein, the Lorax, Elvis Presley and Rosa Parks – all made of straw.
Saturday night, Libby was invited by some friends to attend the Gloucester County Fall Festival at the 4H grounds in Mullica Hill. For the princely sum of $10 a car full, families enjoyed trunk-or-treating, a costume contest, face painting and even a haunted house.
The 4-H festival was a one-night only event, but if your family would like to immerse themselves in the new season, Duffield’s is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Check their website for a calendar of fall events.
Some other Halloween happenings in here in West Deptford include:
- Spookypalooza at RiverWinds Community Center. On Oct. 30 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., little vampires, princesses and circus clowns will gather at our own community center for a costume parade and party. Great alternative to the less-than-neighborly traditional Mischief Night activities.
- Our elementary schools will be holding their annual Halloween parades on Oct. 31. Catch the costumed kids on parade at 10:30 am at Oakview, 12:50 p.m. at Red Bank and at 1:45 at Green-Fields. (Make sure to wave to the Shirley Temple at Green-Fields. That’s my youngest, in her last WD Halloween parade…and my last since her sister was in kindergarten in 1990.)
- Need a quick bite before or after trick or treating? The Lord’s Vineyard (TLV) Church is celebrating “Halloweiner” from 4 to 7 pm on Oct. 31. Free hot dogs, cider and candy for anyone stopping by their new home at 301 Colonial Ave. in West Deptford.
- For some ghoulish pre-Halloween fun, check out Zombie Night at the West Deptford Library. From 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, teens are invited to come in dressed in their undead best and get a zombie makeover.
- The library will also be the site of a pumpkin decorating contest on October 25 at 6 p.m.
- Mr. Malcolm and the staff at the library must have really caught the spirit—or ghost! On Sunday, October 28, at 2 p.m., they will be hosting "Shiver, Shudder, Shake….Scream!" Prepare for some scary stories sure to get you in the spooky mood.