The Haunting Hour

I scream, you scream

we all scream... it's Halloween!

Halloween is many things; a celebration of those loved and lost, a day to show off those hard practiced pumpkin carving skills, the mark of seasonal changes. It may be a ritual to some, a tradition to others, or perhaps just a grab at free candy.

Whatever it means to you, it is by far my favourite festivity of the year. The air is crisp, leaves are all shades of rainbow and everyone has fun embracing their creativity. I reminisce about times I was young and rambunctious; running through neighbourhoods in disguise with my friends, coming home delirious on sugar with a giant pillowcase full of treats, only to suffer through tooth rot and gut ache for many days to come.

As I've grown too tall to hide the fact I am no longer of free candy status, my trick -or- treating traditions have settled into binge watching Halloween classics and the occasional costume party. After three consecutive years of watching Danny Torrance and alter ego Tony "REDRUM" together, I decided it was time to go old school and explore the outdoors. I found myself taking part in the Parade of Lost Souls (Oct 27), and wandering Trinity Street (Oct 31), a subdivision of East Vancouver popular among families for its excessive display of lights and decoration.

The Parade of Lost Souls is a must do activity for any Halloween enthusiast. If you've lived in Vancouver your entire life and still don't know what it is - you've been missing out. Each year, over 10,000 costumed citizens make their way through the interactive outdoor festival, put together by local volunteers and a dedicated group of East Vancouver artists. The route is only announced to the public one night before the parade is set to begin, usually taking place somewhere in the vicinity of Commercial Drive near or on Halloween. This year it was set amidst the Britannia Community Center, and what a spectacle it was; witches, gypsy's and batman dancing in torrential rain to eerie instrumental music, candle lit shrines dedicated to souls no longer of this earth, a ghoulish DJ spinning monster mashes, and an abundance of good humored participants. I was soaked to the bone by the time I completed the circuit, but I couldn't complain, it was one hell of an evening.

For more information on the parade of lost souls visit: Dusty Flower Pot Cabaret

I took to Trinity Street a few days later, on the eve of Halloween. The weather was more forgiving this time around, with only a light mist washing over my face. Masked hooligans ran wild through Burrard View Park setting off a spectrum of ear piercing fireworks, while children in inflatable T-Rex suits waddled past like ducks chasing after sunflower seeds.

The houses that chose to participate in the event were dressed to impress; from fog machines to mechanical creatures, there seemed to be no expense spared. I appreciated the effort that had been put into bringing a magical environment for children (and adults!) to life. I felt like I had walked into an alternate dimension where everything of fantasy and nightmares had united to create the ultimate user experience.

Costumes were both entertaining and creative; a giant papier-mâché Dracula bobble head on a boy three feet tall, whom looked as if he were about to take a topple at any second; a mini-me Michael Myers having an intense stare down with a geometric sabre-tooth; a man sized weeping baby so realistic it was disturbing, viciously rocking back and forth on the grave of his deceased twin brother. It was hard not to appreciate the deranged humour that had gone into this gruesome set up.

Halloween is a tradition I hope never fades. It merges the joy of living and the uncertainty of death into an entertaining evening that helps breathe life into the creative mind of everyone who takes part.

a ninja runs forth to collect his hard earned goods

a reapers graveyard illuminates the way to free candy in hopes of collecting fresh souls

Michael Myers faces off with Sabretooth

a man size baby rocks back and forth in front of concerned onlookers

a wicked witch denies entrance to her lair unless an enticing trick is traded

an ominous silhouette awaits trick -or- treaters

"There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."