The word itself is changing. Once there was an apostrophe … the day was Hallowe’en. It was All Hallows Eve … hallowed as in saints; and it was the evening before All Saints Day. But as with most celebrations that take on added meaning and added elements, it has become quite a festive time.
Scarecrows, once meant to scare crows and other creatures away from corn crops, are now a mainstay in any Halloween or autumn display. Woodstock’s famous, or infamous, traffic has been more congested than ever with rubberneckers gawking at the stationary parade of scarecrows lining both sides of Main Street throughout the short three blocks of the downtown.
Drop by Dean’s Store to cast $1 votes for your favorite. Proceeds go to the Elm Street Cultural Arts, Woodstock’s coalition of creative, talented minds, hearts and hands. Their “Shadow” production added spooky drama to the seasonal atmosphere.
The Big Day, Halloween itself, will give “boys and girls” of all ages an opportunity to see and be seen in costume during KidsFest in Woodstock’s Park at City Center on Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m.
This annual celebration began as a way for youngsters to trick or treat more safely and more extensively as businesses and other groups are gracious with treats for costumed and masked characters from Dorothy of Oz and Cinderella, to Frankenstein’s monster and Superman.
The event has grown a lot, thanks to the Woodstock Parks and Recreation Department. This year, Ronnie the DJ, Adam the Juggler and Tim the Magician will entertain. There will be a moonwalk and slide, face painting, and apple and pumpkin games, with food and craft vendors and a 6 p.m. costume contest. A movie in the park at 7 p.m. will be the perfect way to end the evening.
What a change from the Halloween of 50 years ago. I loved to dress our girls in old hand-me-down rags to go trick or treating.
We didn’t go shopping for fancy princess outfits. The tackier the better was our goal. Daughter Sarah recalls being a hobo one year. Today’s children wouldn’t know what a hobo was. In fact, there are probably many adults who have never seen or heard the word.
For many years, I dressed as Minnie Pearl of Grand Ole Opry fame to answer the doorbell with candy treats. Had a hat with a $2.95 price tag hanging appropriately in view. Greeted the spooks with “Howdy! So glad you could be here!”
But the fun and games never end in Woodstock. The night after Halloween, Friday Night Live will be the kick-off for the Art and Wine Festival slated for Saturday and Sunday.
In the meantime, though, you can still get in on the latest autumn activity, the Discover Woodstock Scavenger Hunt. It has been in full action mode since Friday of last week. The list of 100 activities can be found online at whatsupwoodstock.com or in print at the Visitors Center at Dean’s Store.
Participating teams have until 9 p.m. on Friday night to bring their camera or phone or prints to the Visitors Center to be judged.
The list reads like a travelogue, and is an eye-opener to what the town has to offer. There’s not time enough left to visit the 14 places to eat, all within walking distance of each other.
And if I had all day every day, I’d never be able to stop and read and photograph the same number of plaques that provide important clues and answers needed to complete the hunt. A couple of clues lead to spending some time at the Rope Mill Park, as well as the Outlet Mall.
The great thing about the Scavenger Hunt is that it can serve as a guide for anyone, anytime, to explore and discover Woodstock. By next week, we’ll know the answers.
The Hunt will probably become an annual event. We can expect new clues, new destinations, new fun things to do, and new discoveries as Woodstock changes.
For now, I leave you with one last clue. Visit the Visitors Center at Dean’s Store and look very carefully throughout the store. Pick up and read the brochures that are about Woodstock. Put two and two together. It’s almost like Hansel and Gretel, just a matter of following the clues.
Happy hunting. And Happy Halloween.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.