Friday, October 31, 2003
Trick or Treat all over town
From Daisy's Garage to Tall Pines, Carlisle celebrates Halloween the old-fashioned way
There are some adults who believe that traditional Halloween celebrations are a thing of the past. With communities hosting public Halloween parties, shopping malls eager to draw kids in for store-to-store trick-or-treating, and safety concerns keeping some families at home, many people have gotten the mistaken impression that no one trick-or-treats anymore.
In Carlisle, the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Just ask Liz Bishop, whose haunted house production — and production is surely the right word — drew 450 visitors to her home last October 31. "This is my creative outlet, my way of getting an audience," she laughs. "I guess you could say I'm a frustrated thespian. But it's so much fun. Halloween is a creative time for everyone. Kids find it exciting to feel scared in a safe environment."
Liz Bishop's house is just one of the many popular stops in the Tall Pines neighborhood, currently Carlisle's hottest trick-or-treat destination. Her neighbor, Ellen Davin of Kimball Road, agrees that the pleasures of Halloween in Carlisle are unique. "My three kids and their friends all meet here early in the evening for pizza and cider. We open our house to friends from other neighborhoods as well. Last year Liz Bishop and I joined forces to create a haunted house. We asked for voluntary donations for DARE, and we raised more than $2,000. Liz is amazingly theatrical. I call her the Queen of Halloween. This year I'm leaving it up to her."
Bishop and Davin both assert that they believe "the more the merrier" when it comes to the holiday, and that they are happy to see the number of visitors to Tall Pines swelling each year. "We just ask that people avoid driving through the neighborhood as much as possible, to make it safer," Davin says. "It's best to drop groups off at the entrance to Hutchins or Kimball Road and have them walk from there." Bishop has taken a generous extra step to make the roads even safer for kids by hiring a traffic officer to keep an eye on the flow of car and foot traffic in the neighborhood that evening.
While hundreds troop through Tall Pines, nearly as many circle the ring of venerable antique homes in Carlisle Center, another of the town's most popular Halloween destinations. For many years, Barbara Culkins, who is a part-owner of Daisy's Market and lives above the store, has handed out candy from the garage on her property. "Halloween is a big holiday. We all have a ball, and the kids really look forward to it," she says. "Along with candy for kids, I bake cookies and have cider on hand for the adults."
As the popularity of trick-or-treating in the center of town grew in recent years, an initiative to help ease the cost took hold among other households in town. Families in quieter neighborhoods who do not expect to get many trick-or-treaters are encouraged to donate candy ahead of time by leaving it in a drop box at Daisy's Market. From there, it gets distributed to the houses nearby that attract the largest number of trick-or-treaters. "That's a big help," Culkins says. "Last year I had more than two hundred trick-or-treaters, and the money I put aside for candy doesn't go quite that far."
One youngster who always visits Culkins and the other households in the Center is Charlie Fitzpatrick of Bedford Road. Charlie admits that as a sixth-grader, he might be getting a little old for trick-or-treating, but says that, "I probably will go out this year." Asked to describe the scene in the Center, he muses, "It's havoc, but sort of a quiet havoc. It's not chaos. Everyone is yelling but not panicking, just having fun. One lady gives out huge candy bars so we always look forward to that. Last year, we trick-or-treated at the Senior Housing complex on Church Street. They give out lots of candy. Of course we try not to scare anyone there." Charlie says that as a concession to his maturity, his costume this year will have an ironic bent: "I'll dress regular and wear a sign that says 'Ghost' or something like that." Last year, he went all out with a complicated get-up involving "a mutated plaster mask and a [computer] mouse ball that was supposed to look like my eyeball dropping out."
While the Town Center and Tall Pines attract throngs of visitors from all over Carlisle, there are plenty of neighborhoods whose own residents fill the streets. Jennifer Albanese of Autumn Lane says that her family — herself, her husband Charlie, five-year-old Nicole and 20-month-old Peter — celebrates Halloween in what she considers a traditional but festive way. "A couple of years ago, we began getting together on Halloween with a few other families in the neighborhood who have pre-school-aged kids. Last year, we all got together at our house for pizza and took pictures of the kids in their costumes; then we walked to about five houses. The kids are having fun just being out; they don't care if we don't get to a lot of stops. And for the adults, it's a nice chance to see friends." For the Albanese family, this year's costumes consist of Josie and the Pussycats for Nicole and firefighter garb for Peter.
Nicole and her husband Adam have a history with Halloween costumes that predates their children. "Adam learned to sew in a junior high home ec class," Nicole explains. "Before we had kids, he would make Halloween costumes for both of us every year." Adam is happy to recount some of his sewing successes: one year the couple were prehistoric cave people; another year they were a pirate and a mermaid. The only costume he ever regretted making, he says, is the time he dressed as a Holstein cow for a Halloween party: "People kept squeezing my udder all night." Early on in their marriage, he bought Nicole a sewing machine and she took over in the costume department.
"This is the first year I haven't made the kids' costumes completely from scratch," Nicole says. Nonetheless, her creative hand is clearly at work in the finished result: Madeleine is resplendent in a braided black wig and a complicated outfit that includes stickers Nicole made with a laminating machine. Madeleine's younger brother Austin, who is 4 1/2, will dress in a black-and-silver skeleton suit. Nicole is enhancing Austin's look with white face paint and green hair gel. The Pinards usually trick-or-treat close to home, but this year they plan to join Madeleine's kindergarten friend Julia Velazco (who will dress as a black cat) to make the rounds in Julia's Woodland/Log Hill Road neighborhood. "First we have dinner," Madeleine explains, "but everyone eats really quickly. We want to be the first trick-or-treaters out there so that we get the good stuff."
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito