Thursday, July 23, 2009

Halloween Conductivity

My good friend Jon posed an interesting question - what are the best cities and towns to live in if you love Halloween? I guess this can also be stretched to ask: what sort of community/neighborhood/environment is the most conducive to the ultimate Halloween experience as a yard haunter?

I've lived at a few different locations in a couple of states over the years, but I've always returned to the place where I grew up - my parents' house - to set up my display. At residences elsewhere, I've always asked new neighbors what the Halloween turnout was like and they always replied "we only get a few kids." My parents live in a pretty suburban (almost urban) location. Blocks and blocks of row homes and apartment complexes. People on top of people. The community decorates like it's an orange Christmas which is really cool. Lights and decorations everywhere. And tons of kids. The downside is that we get quite a lot of older kids trying to impress their friends by being rude and disrespectful. I filter that stuff out to remain sane, and for the most part it's over quickly and it sort of becomes background noise.

A while back I wrote about Halloween 2002, the year I didn't set up my haunt. I ended up walking around some areas to see how other people celebrate the holiday. In particular, a colonial borough. Single homes, manicured lawns, and tons of Halloween decorations. The street was blocked off and it was a quiet and magical Halloween block party. I'd be in heaven on a street like that. Not a lot of trick-or-treat traffic, but a whole lot of Halloween spirit. Here are some pics of that neighborhood in the days leading up to Halloween.

They take the Holiday VERY seriously.

Getting back to Jon's question, what cities or towns are the best for Halloween fanatics? I'm thinking small towns. And ones that have annual Halloween parades (the ones with children) are a good start. We've been to Abingdon, VA and they have an annual Halloween parade, a community dance, and Halloween decorations on EVERYTHING. It's really amazing to see.

There should be an annual top-ten issued along with the lists of "Worst for Crime," "Best for Employment," "Best for Housing Prices."

"Best for Halloween."

Anybody have any suggestions for the best Halloween towns?


Probably not a good town to live in if you're looking for a quiet little Halloween.

18 comments:

Nev said...

I asked the same thing in a forum a while back and got a lot of interesting responces. One of the ones I suggested which I would like to do is visit The Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene NH on the way to Salem.

Bob said...

Gotta go with Salem and Sleepy Hollow. We went to Rhode Island for our honeymoon (October) and visited Salem while we were there with a stop at Sleepy Hollow on the ride home and both were wonderful. Salem is Halloween HQ with witches on every corner, a big Vampire Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel and plenty of night time activities. I'm planning on going back to Sleepy Hollow in october for the Jack o lantern festival.

Rot said...

I've actually been to Sleepy Hollow in the Fall and it was beautiful. I'd love to time it to be closer to Halloween.

Sara said...

The town I live in seems like it would be *ideal* for Halloween. Lots of fall colors in the trees, lots of kids, lots of old scary homes that decorate,but for some reason....I dunno, they just don't turn out. We got a whopping FOUR last year and that just depresses the crap out of me. I don't even want to think about how lonely it will be this year...

In this part of the "south" (sw Missouri)Church Trunk-or-Treat parties are HUGE. I mean, at least kids dress up and get candy but it's not the same.

I often wonder if ToTing is on its way out and will ultimately disappear in the near future.

Could I BE any more depressing? Sorry! lol

Christopher B said...

The village in which I reside approaches Halloween with the same apathetic demeanor with which it approaches every other holiday - or day of the week, for that matter. (Sounds like Sara and I live in the same town. :P)

Although villages and small towns should be the ideal locations for Halloween celebrations, I can say from experience that's not always the case.

Jon said...

I vote we all take over a town. Who's in?

JHMDF said...

I just posted today on a forum about Tot's being taken to malls to get candy on Halloween... drives me nuts!!! When I lived in Wausau, Wisconsin, we had a TON of Tot's... a few hundred easily.

Here in St. Petersburg, Florida there are a few really good areas. In our old part of town, people get Bussed in and there end up being thousands of Tot's in a 6-8 block area... it is NUTS and they have police control and everything!

-Scott
Haunter's Headquarters

NecroBones said...

In Kensington in MD, Perry Ave. closes the street down to cars for Halloween night, and nearly the whole street decorates up and gets into the spirit. Trick-or-Treaters come through by the _thousands_ (literally, probably around two thousand over the course of the evening), despite it being a small-town street.

I live in VA, but I've spent a few of the recent Halloweens at "Scary Perry". I love setting up my haunt, but I usually only get two ToTs each year.

Jason-v said...

I live in a small town in NC, Shelby to be exact. Our town USED to have all sorts of party's, parades,events.. now not alot goes on. I swear I'm the only house that decorates and truly appreciates the "holiday". There are a couple houses nearby that still goes somewhat all out, but I'm guessing Salem. Ive been to towns all over from New york down to vero beach Fla and I've seen some awesome displays. But it seems around me its just a dwindling "night".

This year though I'm gonna have a Halloween tree as seen in Bradburys tale, and a front yard like the one in Trick r Treat...

The Captain said...

Jon I'm in!

The most ToT's I've gotten at my house was 25. I do live in a town of 5000 on a dead end street in the country, but I'm trying to build up a reputation as the house to check out on Halloween. All my neighbors come my house by with the kids before they head to more happen places or parties.

Mark said...

Here in Minnesota we have 'the Halloween capital of the world' in Anoka. I have never actually been as it's a bit too far north for me and October is always crazy busy (as I'm sure you can relate), but it looks like a lot of fun. Here's a link if you want to check it out...

http://www.anokahalloween.com/

Jon said...

It's funny, a lot of people mention Salem, MA and it's true: the Halloween vibe there is unmistakable. I love it there for its history and also because I simply love most New England seaside towns.

The thing is, I know a few people who live in Salem (it's actually not far from where I live) and they aren't all that psyched about what their city becomes on Halloween. As cool as Salem is, the whole witch thing is way commercialized and has become a lame tourist gimmick. Many residents, including the Wiccan community there, openly deride and sometimes battle with the commercial, exploitative half of the city.

Halloween night in Salem is a street party with a lot of costumed drunks roaming around looking to misbehave in various ways. That's fine if you are looking for a Mardis Gras-type experience but does it feel like Halloween? Not to me. For my money, if you want to get that experience you need to hit Salem in early October, before the place goes Disney. Or find a private party to go to. That's just me.

Quick comment on the mall thing to: what a huge bummer that is. If Day of the Dead taught us anything it's that no good can come of a mall. What a sad irony that we now round up kids from perfectly good, hauntable neighborhood streets and bus them over to brightly lit shopping centers so we can give them a few pieces of candy and entice mom & dad to pick up some electronic cigarettes and a fresh pair of khakis while they wait for their kids to finish "celebrating".

Heartbreakingly lame.

On the one hand, I understand maybe wanting to pull kids out of dangerous neighborhoods but, heck, send them my way instead. Anywhere but the mall. Geez. The only thing spooky there is the zombies. The lame kind. The kind that shut off all parts of their brain except the one that controls handing over the credit card.

Closing on a more positive, less ranty note: I hear really good things about Savannah, GA. Anyone have any first hand experience?

Jon said...

Correction: that was DAWN OF THE DEAD.

Ugh.

Nev said...

I know one parent who took their kid to a mall and I blasted her. I think its terrible. Dangerous neighborhood? Walk with your kid. How dangerous is it really? And if it is, drive past the mall to the good neighborhood. Taking your kid to the mall is like telling your kid there is no Santa and then making him help clean the basement on Christmas morning.
LAME!!!
Speaking of lame, I heard Anoka is boring. Ive never been but I cant see anything really awesome happening there. Youtube has nothing, google...

Rot said...

I once took a drive through a town called Ringoes in New Jersey. Beautiful small town with colonial buildings and a small town square. They manufacture Muirhead pumpkin butter there. And on that Saturday by chance they were having a pumpkin festival. Tiny event with a guess-the-weight oversized pumpkin, pumpkin desserts, and hot pumpkin soup that sold out in an hour. It seemed private and wasn't crowded at all. I think that's my ideal idea for a Halloween town. Something small and quiet. And I keep coming back to the colonial theme. Something about older homes/streets and Halloween seem to go together.

The Unsomnambulist said...

As far as cities go, I can't compare much. I started CreepyLA.com to try and find as much fun Halloween stuff in Los Angeles as possible, and there is quite a bit (and plenty of creepy fun year round), but nothing beats the perfect small town for the Halloween mood.

Salem is awesome - but gets a bit too overrun by tourists. I visited a few years ago a week ahead of Halloween, and really enjoyed it... but as we left the swarms of college kids were coming in. I'm afraid it became less trick r treat n scary fun and more booze and sexy costume fun.

Will have to try Sleepy Hollow sometime... anyone know how New Orleans is?

Nev said...

Sexy costumes cheapen Halloween...

I heard New Orleans is pretty good actually but lots of tours and some of them are really terrible and just there to take advantage of tourists so do some research.

jay's shadow said...

im with jon, lets take over a town and make it our own halloween paradise