31st October – Halloween!

Love it or hate it Halloween in America is quite an experience.  This is my third ‘real’ Hallloween; Harris and Steve’s second and Patrick’s first.  Halloween in America is a family affair and lots of fun.  Yes, it can be a little spooky for younger children but generally great care is taken to shelter little ones from anything too scary; unless of course they have older siblings that delight in scaring them any time of the year!  It surprises many that America, as a ‘god’ loving country is such a fan of what was once a pagan festival, but whatever connotations Halloween once had are long forgotten by the vast majority of Americans who purely see it as a chance to dress themselves and their children in costumes; wander their neighbourhood in the evening greeting their neighbours with ‘trick-or-treat’; then going home with a bag loaded with candy.  Schools, workplaces and even churches hold Halloween events.  A local church in Bismarck was holding a ‘trunk-or-treat’ where church families fill their cars with candy and hand it out from the  trunks (or boot as we say); with other fun activities such as pumpkin decorating.

Pumpkins are an important part of Halloween since it is a fall/autumn event and they are in abundance.  Pumpkins are chosen from the local pumpkin patch or the local grocery store if you miss the patch! We bought 6 small pumpkins for each of the kids in the house and one large one so we could decorate.  A couple of hours on Sunday afternoon were spent around the kitchen table designing and carving our pumpkins. It’s a messy affair with pumpkin ‘guts’ going in the pot (then the compost) and the seeds rinsed to roast in the oven.  The seeds were mixed of cinnamon and cayenne pepper and became a delicious treat whilst the carving continued, even if they were slightly too brown!

Haunted houses are a popular sight across America and in Mandan they have the ‘Haunted Fort’ at Fort Lincoln State Park.  We set off to find out what it was all about and found a long line of kids, many in costume, lined up to play games, earn tickets and claim a prize.  We were able to dress in ‘traditional’ clothing for a fun photo and then head to a replica of General Custer’s house to see it decorated for Halloween.  At night the house and grounds became a very spooky destination for young people but in daylight it was tame for smaller children.  The kids had some fun and left with a small goody bag. I reassured them that the candy would flow freely on Halloween night so any deficit of candy at the moment would well and truly be replaced by a surplus in one night’s time. I knew I wouldn’t need to buy any snacks to eat in the car once we started our road trip again.


Halloween day was busy as we had shopping chores to do to get ready for the start of our road trip again and to prepare our gear for packing.  When we returned to Sandy’s house the boys were keen to get into their costumes.  Here they are … Patrick the ‘Ninja’ and Harris the ‘Return of the Living Dead’ or something along those lines.  They were bursting out of their skins to go out but no point going too early when people wouldn’t be home to answer the door.  Little Evan got dressed in his Thomas the Tank Engine costume and Paige was ‘Tribal Spirit’ (that was the name of the costume at the shop).  Now everyone we could hit the streets.  It was 5.30pm and the weather was gorgeous – the warmest evening you could imagine for the 31st October; so we didn’t need to overdress the kids in layers; plus they were practically running between houses on a chase for candy.

After a one hour loop of a number of streets, we returned to Sandy’s house for a spaghetti dinner and I emptied the kids candy bags so they could be refilled when we hit the other end of the neighbourhood after dinner.  Spaghetti always taste better when someone else cooks it!  When filled the kids up on a good dinner so there was less room for candy!  It was dark when we set off ‘trick or treating’ again and the little tank engine was really starting to slow down after a big walk to the end of the street and back.  The big boys hit 2 houses for every one that Evan got to.  There were many many more streets that we could have gone to but really, who needs that much candy? 

When we returned home at 7.30pm the Halloween party that Sandy had organised had just begun.  Steve enjoyed drinking his wonderful growler of beer that Sandy got at the local microbrewery and it became a wine tasting with everyone bringing a bottle of wine.  The wine got diluted by some delicious pumpkin pie and the kids enjoyed diving into their candy bags.  What a great Halloween – we found the fun in Mandan! Thanks Tibke Family!

Gina, Sandy, Carmen and Karina.  Trick or treat!


1 Comment »

  • Win Bartholomai November 2, 2011

    Wow! What great costumes. Sounds like you will have a great time. You will have enough ‘candy’ to last you until Christmas! Karlee says ‘woof’ and she is counting the days until you come home.
    Bye and lots of love
    Mum and Dad.

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