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Australian Family Does Halloween - Wonderful Haunting Memories

By Michelle Higgins - 3rd November 2011

Pictures by  Michelle Higgins - all rights reserved

Twas the night before . . . Halloween!

Halloween - and the excitement levels in our house were reaching fever pitch. My oldest child had waited seven long years to again experience the wonder that is an American Halloween. And on October 31st 2011, any feeling of homesickness was swept aside because on this particular day there was nowhere else in the world we would rather be.

I clearly remember our first Halloween with the children in California. The

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sidewalks were packed with families and nearly all houses were decorated, many elaborately. And while from the kids’ point of view the prize was a basket full of candy, from my perspective, it was the real sense of community achieved on this night. Halloween was a party for everybody, no invitation required.

This year, I sent my knight and witch off to elementary school in the morning feeling a little sheepish about our lack of effort in the costume department. By the afternoon I had acquired a stunning velvet and lace dress for Ms9 for all of $3, so she could hold her head up high just in time for the school parade. Fairy bread was delivered to Mr7’s classroom party, allowing a little bit of Australia to sneak into the proceedings.

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After school, we headed to the local outdoor shopping centre for some warm up trick or treating. The place was teaming with miniature superheroes, fairies, a 4-year-old Rubics Cube and more than one Elmo, but what really caught our attention was The Robot. Operated remotely by a man named Henry Evans, a former company executive who had a stroke at forty that left him a quadriplegic, he directed The Robot to pick up and deposit candy bars into the children’s pumpkin baskets. It was a uniquely Silicon Valley moment and one that will stay with us for a long time.

The main event - trick or treating in our local neighbourhood - was beyond brilliant. And while pumpkin carving, spider webs and ghosts featured prominently, many took things a rather large step further. From blow up movie screens (with seating) to smoke machines and a cul-de-sac that resembled a film set, more than once we found ourselves literally gasping.

The absolute highlight of the night was the Haunted House. A beautiful 100-year-old
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Craftsman home, lying empty while awaiting a facelift, had been transformed for the evening into a very scary place indeed. The walls were smeared with blood, a room had been transformed into a terrifying maze with black plastic sheeting, and all manner of scary creatures were plotted around the house.

By the end of the evening I felt satisfied that we had met a few neighbours, the children had collected insane amounts of candy (thankfully not all of it peanut butter cups!) and we had truly embraced what may just be our favourite holiday on the American calendar.

Next up, Thanksgiving!

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