Frighttown rolled into PDX this week, with a macabre contingent of characters dripping from the mouth and dragging limp legs along behind them. These life-like zombies are only actors, however, they still give a slight chill when they saunter by inside the haunted house.
Some years ago my brother-in-law began a yearly ritual haunted house. Year 1 began with a black tent in the front of the house with some minor animations and grotesque monster-like beasts, a walk-by attraction, and some scared trick-or-treat kids. Year two expanded a bit, and the horror was expanded. By year three, B-I-L recruited myself and one or two others to enlist in the monster squad. Year over year the event became more detailed, more elaborate, and far more interesting. News crews began showing up. Donation to food banks soared. From the humble beginnings of the street side display to the nearly football field long maze that it eventually became, Halloween was always a huge work effort and an enormous challenge to create something better than the year before.
Halloween has become a monster of rituals. Massive stores dedicated to dressing your kids (and adults) as a pimp or hippie are like fast food restaurants - one on every corner. Admission to organized haunted houses top $20 a head, and the merchants and retailers thrive for about 3 weeks on cheap plastic decorations and themed candy. I don't remember when Halloween became this enormous an event, but I am overwhelmed by the shear size of it.
Only a handful of days left to get in the mix. Grab the kids and paint a face, walk the streets and run from zombies. If you see a clown, run fast. If you see a hippie, well, run faster.