Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30

Every year I mean to drive around town and take pictures of houses that have decorated for Halloween. Every year I wind up being so busy worrying about getting my own yard ready that I invariably never get around to it. Just over the course of regular travel, I only saw a few houses that had anything up at all in their yards, porches, or windows, let alone any astonishing yard haunts.

Today, while I was waiting for paint to dry on a few of my own last minute props I was putting together, I decided to go for a walk with my camera in hand and see what I could find. The following photos all came from a single neighborhood about a mile from my house, and spread over about half a mile of distance. Two of the photos come from the same house. There was also one other house that I didn't photograph because the man who lived there was in his yard giving me suspicious looks.  

It makes me happy when I see houses done up like this with no frills decorations that harken back to the 1960s and 1970s. It's certainly much better than the house I passed that had a pine tree in their front yard covered with bows make out of cutesy "Halloween" ribbon. They just don't get it.

What depresses me though is that I don't see more houses like this. You always hear statistics about how Halloween runs second only to Christmas in terms of money spent. On what though? Are all those billions of dollars simply going to candy? Or do I just live in the wrong towns? When I lived in Los Angeles lots of houses here done up, and there was an entire block in Venice, CA that had every house participating in a themed Halloween each year. The year I went it was a creepy carnival and each house was like it's own different sideshow exhibit. There were games and everything. In Ann Arbor, MI, there were some houses, but not a lot. Our yard decor definitely inspired a few neighbors to at least make a token effort. Now that I'm on Cape Cod, I'm seeing very little evidence that Halloween is a holiday that people actually participate in.

According to an article I found on Shellhawk's Nest about the husband of my daughter's third grade teacher, who created Brandywine Cemetery, a survey given by the National Retail Federation 50.1% of people will decorate their yards for Halloween. I find this statistic entirely suspect unless they surveyed the participants of the Countdown to Halloween, or people shopping in the Halloween section of stores. That percentage means that every other house should have decorations out on their yard for Halloween. Don't I wish that were true.

Does anyone out there reading this live somewhere where a large part of the population seems to have the holiday spirit and decorate the outside of their homes for Halloween? If so, please send me the real estate section of the newspaper.

One of the reasons I do as much as I do is because I want the kids that trick or treat through my neighborhood to have at least one house where they go "wow" when they see it. I also keep hoping it will inspire their parents to do it to their houses too.



ShellHawk said...

While we don't have a large section of the population to decorate (though we do have some who seem to take it seriously in my 'hood), I would respectfully point out that if you, Rot, the Davises, Ghould Friday, Arana Muerta and Mr. Macabre would move to Folsom, Spider Rider and I wouldn't have so much pressure to have perfect haunts.

If you move to my block or nearby, there are weekly cocktails to be had, and a block party on the 4th of July where we most definitely do NOT set off illegal fireworks we've bought in Nevada.

Just a thought.

Steven Altis said...

In the little town in Virginia where I live there's a pretty good Halloween decorating ratio, although there's one street in town that pretty much owns Halloween. It's a dead end street that has been blocked off every Halloween for as long as I can remember so that it becomes one big Halloween street fair. Every house gets uber-decorated. I had a friend living on the street one year and I spent Halloween night as a werewolf in a cage in his front yard. It's pretty amazing. A couple of towns over where my brother's family live there's not as much decorating but trick or treating is a major league event. The streets are like a subway station at rush hour. You can barely wade through the knee-high hobgoblins. Die-hards swear that if you start early and keep up a good pace you can hit 800 houses in a night, but I've never known my nephews to make it through more than a hundred some before crashing.