Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween Bunnies

It's Halloween weekend, and the Bunny Brigade of Celebration, Florida, has already started the party! (NOTE: If you want to see photos, click here.)

This weekend, the Celebration Trolley is touring some of the best-decorated houses. For $5, you can pile on and embark on a haunted adventure. Thus, on Friday night, the Bunnies were out in force, converging on the downtown trolley stop.

Since two of my neighbors were joining us, they packed into Canyonero with my husband and I for the brief jaunt to Front Street. We decided to leave a little early so we could stop at Barnie's for some liquid refreshment. Usually I go for the Coffee Coolers, which I am convinced contain addictive drugs, but this time I was swayed by an iced chai. The rest of our merry little band selected coffee drinks, and then we headed off to meet the other Bunnies.

For those who may not be rabid followers of my blog, the Bunny Brigade is a loose-knit social club, made up of pretty much anyone who is willing to don fuzzy pastel bunny ears in public, drink, carouse, and generally have a good time. To paraphrase the immortal words of Ed Wood, as quoted by Tim Burton in his classic movie, "We're not judgemental; if we were, we wouldn't have any members." We've been in existence a little over a year (our first event was stalking the Tampa Bay Bucs in the Town Tavern when they were staying at the hotel in town back in 2005), but we've already managed to attain a decent degree of notoriety.

As we headed for the trolley stop, it was easy to spot our fellow Brigade members. We simply homed in on the forest of fuzzy ears. We were planning to take the 7:30 tour, which would make it dark enough to get the full effect of the lights and decorations.

Ticket sales were being conducted by Peter Pan and the Devil...quite a polar combination! Soon, everyone had their tickets in hand; I'll admit we got some odd looks and comments as we packed the queue line, awaiting our ride into the nether regions of Celebration. The tourists (and probably some of the locals) couldn't help but wonder why a group of grown people had gathered together in front of the lake in bunny headdresses. It probably wouldn't be as shocking to the out-of-towners if we were all clad in Mickey Mouse ears. After all, we're the "Disney Town." But remember, long before he created the world-famous rodent, Walt's first character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Thus, while it may not be apparent to non-Disneyphiles, we're paying homage to Uncle Walt in our own small way.

Of course, there were plenty of people who knew us, too. One of our members, who couldn't join the tour because she was waiting for a table at Max's with visiting family members, spotted us and dashed across the street, exclaiming, "My people! My people!" Another interrupted his birthday celebration to stop by for a quick hello.

The trolley was running a bit late, but we knew that it would show up eventually because we had passed it on our way downtown. We saw it heading toward Artisan Park as we turned out of East Village. The 6:30 run looked like it was full, and judging from the crowd of people that had filled in behind us, 7:30 was going to be packed to the rafters, too.

Soon, our Halloween chariot had arrived, and we piled on in wild anticipation. Peter Pan boarded with us, joining Tinker Bell and our driver, Wacky Willy. The Bunny Brigade took up about a third of the trolley space, scattered among other locals and tourists, but I think we accounted for 90 percent of the rowdiness.

As we drove through Celebration, Tinker Bell shared some town trivia. I learned some new facts about my hometown; for example, the only residential street with palm trees is East Lawn. I drive down that street nearly every day, and I never realized that! We also had the honor of having a couple onboard who are not only Bunny Brigade members, but also two of the town's original residents. They've lived in Celebration since 1996, so next year will mark a decade for them.

We headed over to East Village, where we oogled at the lights and had a visit "Grandma," who passed out candy through the trolley windows. Then it was off to Artisan Park for more decorated houses before we wove our way back through West Village towards the main part of town and the highlight of the tour. We stopped by Verandah Place, where some enterprising residents have set up an actual walk-through haunted house in their yard and garage! The elaborate props, scenes, and monsters were on a par with some of the professional haunted houses I've seen. At the end, those brave enough to make it through were rewarded with candy bars. I selected a Hersheys with Almonds, while hubby (who has obviously been brainwashed by too much "Simpsons") selected a Butterfinger.

Apparently, the Bunny Brigade has achieved a small degree of infamy in town. As we piled out at the haunted house, the home owners actually recognized us! Of course, the ears are a dead giveaway, but wearing weird get-ups is not necessarily unusual at Halloween. We were pleased to be recognized as a year-'round group of crazies rather than fair-weather partiers who only parade our propensity for wearing fake animal parts once a year.

To cap the tour, we headed off for an elaborate set-up in North Village (my favorite part is the Area 51 alien scene) before we returned to Front Street to let the next group of revelers on board. It was great fun, and I'm hoping that it becomes an annual event.

The night was still young, so the Bunny Brigade simply moved the party to the home of our Grande Dame/High Priestess. With the margaritas flowing freely, we addressed such deep philosophical questions as "Have aliens visited the earth?", "Are ghosts real?", and "Do Heaven and Hell exist?" But as the alcohol level rose, the conversation deteriorated into Celebration gossip and our favorite memories of the Mickey Mommas visit to the Cypress Cove nudist resort (which I chronicled a few blog entries back).

If you haven't already checked out the Halloween photos, click here!

Eventually we all drifted out into the night (I think it was around midnight, which is fitting for a Halloween gathering) and headed back to our respective villages. We had kicked off the holiday weekend with a bang, so now it was time to rest up and regain our strength for two more days of partying.

For those of you who are in the Celebration area, there are still two more days of trolley runs. I urge you to take the Haunted Trolley tour! Here are the details:

Oct. 28 & 29, 6:30 – 9 pm, Oct. 30, 5:30 – 9 pm
Downtown Lakeside (at the end of Market Street)
$5 for adults, $3 for kids 3 – 12 (Free for kids under 3)

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

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