Monday, November 15, 2010

Wine Country Halloween

Napa Valley Register
Nov. 15, 2020

Halloween at the Huffmans usually means trick-or-treating in our little court with the girls, and keeping dad well supplied as he parks himself near our front gate with a bucket of candy.

But this year, two of the Huffmans were invited to two different friends’ houses to trick-or-treat. Both houses happened to be on the same street, Wine Country Avenue in north Napa.

Now, we typically have a pretty good Halloween turnout at our court in south Napa. Many of us put up lights and decorations. I know to expect at least 100 little visitors darting from house to house. So I had my concerns about venturing out to an unproven trick-or-treat destination. Would Halloween be as good on another street as it is in our court? Were we abandoning our court for the promise of a bag or two of free candy?

The answer was yes.

The first house we stopped at on Wine Country Avenue was having a Halloween party. And so was the second house. And the third house. Almost every house was decorated, with each more over the top than the next. I was impressed. These are my kind of people, I thought. People who love Halloween and aren’t afraid to show it.

Heading down Wine Country Avenue we rounded a corner only to find ourselves looking at Blackbeard’s pirate ship. Every other day of the year, this house is your average suburban tract home. But on Halloween night, it had been transformed to something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. The bow of the pirate ship jutted out from the front of the house. Lightening flashed. A skeleton steered the wheel, as the sound of rain and wind howled. A bearded pirate sat at the doorway, handing out candy. All I could do was stare.

As it got darker and darker, the streets got fuller and fuller with Halloween partygoers. The kids were dressed up, the parents were dressed up, the dogs were dressed up. There were so many people on the street, it was like a Halloween traffic jam. This wasn’t just Halloween, it was Halloween on steroids. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Headless Horseman ride down the street.

At a house a few doors down from the pirate ship, two giant Halloween ghouls with skeleton faces and draped in rags hung outside. Strobe lights flashed. Loud, and I mean LOUD, rock music played from what must have been mammoth-sized speakers hidden somewhere. A crowd had gathered in awe of its Halloween horror.

What IS that music?, I asked.

It’s Metallica, said a dad next to me, matter-of-factly.

Someone with one of those microphones that makes your voice sound like a scary monster cackled at people walking by.

“Come here witch!” the house yelled.

Who is he talking to? Looking around, I realized the monster voice meant me in my witch cape and hat. I shook my head. No way was I getting any closer.

Another block over, Snow White had set up a Halloween buffet in her garage. There was coffee, and cookies and candy galore. My daughter’s eyes just about popped out of her head when she saw the chocolate fountain.

Snow White said she and her husband had been setting up the Halloween spread for the past five years.

“Thank you for coming,” she said in her happiest Snow White voice, handing out beaded necklaces.

At one house, the front driveway had been converted into a haunted operating room with bloody operating table, and other gruesome sights. Our two girls refused to get any closer, and insisted we turn back.

Talk about peer pressure. If you lived on Wine Country, you couldn’t get away with just a pumpkin or two. A house with some store-bought decorations would look mighty unimpressive next to that pirate ship. How do you compete with the pirate ship and a chocolate fountain?

It was getting close to 8 p.m. but there was no sign that the party was slowing down any time soon. We caught up with our 13-year-old and her friends down the block. She had taken off her shoes and was walking in her pink tights. Their bags sagged with candy and treats.

I’m not sure if we will be invited back to Wine Country Avenue but I have a great idea for next Halloween.

Pirate Court. My husband better start growing his beard right away.

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