Halloween was always fun at our house. When the girls were old enough for trick-and-treating, we created our own family tradition, sneakily devised so they didn’t stay out too long. We invited their friends and friends’ parents back to the house for a post-trick-and-treat party. I prepared trays of cheese crumpets—a quick and easy heat in the oven—and we served hot chocolate for the children and mulled wine for the adults. We decorated the house and set the atmosphere for spooky stories, so the children could gather in the dining room to tell their tales while they foraged through their treats. Afterwards, we performed a puppet show, and everything wound up with fireworks in the back garden. The parties were great. The kids loved them because they were fun, and the adults liked them because they ensured that the children were off the streets by eight. The parties also cut down on the piles of candy gathered in the pumpkin buckets.
Halloween in 1993 was particularly busy, not only because of the election campaign, but also because the ‘fun’ puppet shows had now graduated to public gigs. On top of that, it was Max’s first Halloween, and he would have to cope with an influx of people in his home, not just with the party, but also with the classes from Second Street School who always walked down to do our ‘spooky-house’ tour and to watch a rehearsal of whatever show was on the books for that year. The show for 1993 was The Witch from Down Under. It was a cute production about an Australian witch who comes to visit Super Natural British Columbia and gets lost. Instead of arriving at the Empress Hotel, she ends up in Dracula’s castle. Once again, this was an early version of the show, with Uncle Jim, the father of our current premier, doing the voice of the Count. No jokes about politics and bloodsuckers, please.
Two days before Halloween, we ran shows all day for the school classes. Max coped surprisingly well with the first troop of children trailing through our ‘haunted house’. However, when the next batch arrived, he developed a been-there-done-that expression and spent the rest of the afternoon upstairs in our bedroom enjoying a nap. The shows went very well, in spite of the fact that the witch lost her head during one performance and we had to stop for repairs. As is always the way with live performance, the audience loved to see something going wrong. The teachers were all most enthusiastic, and after the final show, Mrs. Crossland talked about the follow-up projects she would give her class. As she left, Caroline hissed at me: “Did you hear that? We got their class a bunch of HOMEWORK!”
Halloween fell on a Sunday that year, so the weekend was busy. On Saturday, we performed a gig at Queens Park Hospital. On the Sunday, we were booked to do three shows at Bonsor Rec Centre. This also turned out to be the site for a BVA/BCA Candidates baseball game. I was informed that I’d have to duly take part in the game between performances of our show. However, after my first hit sent the ball up in the air and nearly knocked out the umpire, my team members happily returned me to the Arts. What a marathon it was. We finished our shows, packed up late afternoon, loaded our theatre, drove home, unloaded and reset it all again for the party—after which I changed into my black dress and witch’s hat, then sat with a glass of mulled wine while the girls went trick-or-treating and Hugh dispensed candy to the visitors. Max was very interested in the children who came to the door. This was because we had also set out a dish of dog biscuits by the candy tray, and every time he sat nicely and didn’t growl, he was rewarded with a cookie.
By 8:30, the house was packed with friends and neighbours. The children told their stories, the show had its final run, the food and drinks were served, and everyone trooped out to the deck for the grand finale. By this time, Max was wild-eyed and hyperactive. I spent the rest of the evening fielding the cheese crumpets that the kids tried to feed him surreptitiously, then soothing and consoling him in our room while the fireworks whizzed and roared through the night sky. Poor Max was not impressed and he told me so in no uncertain terms. Definitely a Halloween Howl!