Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Hoardes

Every year since we purchased Duloc Manor, I had heard horrific tales of Halloween in Celebration. Supposedly it has reached legendary proportions, with the long-suffering downtown homeowners passing out literally thousands of pieces of candy before collapsing from exhaustion in their front yards (no sense in staying inside, as you'd end up propping your door open since the stream of people doesn't cease for hours).

Halloween has always been special to me; besides falling right around my birthday, it has always appealed to me because it's the one day a year when you can assume someone else's identity, dress crazy, and run around like a lunatic, and no one will slip you in a white jacket and drag you away to the Sunny Hill Farm for Broken Brains. It's also the one magical day per year that candy contains 0 calories (or so I keep telling myself).

It also has special meaning in terms of our moving to Celebration. It was Halloween week when I attended a conference, and hubby rode on my coattails so he could visit Disney World while I was working. The conference had come up at the last minute, and little did I know that it was one tidy paver in the pathway that God was laying to lead us to life in Celebration.

Since we are Disney cruise fanatics, we stopped by the shoreside offices, which are located in Celebration, before we headed to the airport for our flight back to Chicago. At the time, moving to Florida was still a vague 10-year plan, and we had no idea where exactly we would end up. We figured it would be in fairly close proximity to Disney World, but our exact criteria was vague.

Once we were done at shoreside, we still had a little time to kill. We drove into the thick of town, poked around, fell in love...and the rest is history. We knew that this was the place and set about figured out the logistics. Thus, Halloween is a sort of anniversary for us. (Actually, it was October 30th.)

In Chicago, we lived in a condo, so of course we never had any trick-or-treaters. How I missed the ringing door bell and the cute little ghosts and goblins begging for a sugar fix! I was so glad to be moving to a house where we would once again hear the pitter-patter of ghoulish feet on the front porch every All Hallows Even. I was also looking forward to seeing the wild melee in Main Village; passing out candy to the occasional gaggle of kiddies is fun, but trick-or-treaters in the thousands was the stuff of dreams for me.

Unfortunately, circumstances intervened every year to keep me from making it downtown. The first year, I was in Chicago. Last year, I was in town, but my husband was back in the Windy City and I didn't want to shaft the trick-or-treaters who made their way to our house. If someone managed to get all the way back to East Village, they should definitely be rewarded. Even though the trickle of kids was nothing like Main Village, I think I ended up getting 100 or so in 2005.

This year, I insisted that my husband be in town so he could man our front door while I escaped to the downtown revelry. We were invited to a party at a home in the absolutely perfect location to be right in the thick of the mayhem.

We figured that we'd stick around the homestead front for a couple of hours, then head downtown once things calmed down in East Village. Last year most of the kiddies came early, so we'd have plenty of time to pass out candy at home and then catch the tail end of the insanity.

Sadly, we only got four groups of kids this year...yes, four. Talk about a disappointment! From 100 to 4...an unbelievable drop. I guess we've just too far off the beaten path, and only three houses on our block had their lights on. The kids on the main street probably figured that our dark little cul de sac wasn't worth the effort.

When I realized that dozens of kids weren't going to suddenly appear on my porch, I admitted defeat and we jumped in Crush (our NEV) for the drive to Main Village. Since it was getting late, I figured that traffic would be thinning out. Wrong! I was soon stuck in an endless ribbon of traffic that wound from Front Street to the entrance of town. I pulled over into a handy spot, and we hiked the rest of the way to our destination.

As we hiked along, I was amazed at the mass of people climbing out of cars and clogging the sidewalks. There were kids, teens, and adult arriving in town en mass in a neverending stream, even though it was nearing 8 p.m. I doubt that more than 1 percent were locals; people who live in Celebration wisely stick to quieter sections of town for their candy collecting.

When we reached our destination, we had to force our way through a solid stream of trick or treaters gathering goodies at the gate. It was constant, with another family stepping up as soon as the one ahead of them had scored a treat. I was glad to make it to the other side of the fence unscathed so I could watch the hoopla from a safe distance. Party guests took turns at the gate, handing out the booty.

Most of the houses surrounding us were dark, having already given out their quota of candy. If you live on Celebration Avenue, you can literally go through a couple of thousand pieces. Believe it or not, one of the trick or treaters actually complained about only getting piece of candy. The person handing it out said, "Uh, yeah, we've had over a thousand kids," but I'm sure it went over Miss Augustus Gloop's head.

But my favorites were the tourists. I had always thought that all of the people who descend onto town are from surrounding areas, and for the most park that's true. But people who are visiting Disney World also find that Celebration is convenient for a trick or treating fix. There was one dad who had come from England with his two little boys. You'd think they would be clamoring for more theme park time, but no! He said they had insisted on trick or treating!

We also got some Japanese visitors from the foreign program at Epcot. Even though they were past traditional trick or treat age, they held out their bags, chanted the proper words when prompted, and recieve their reward.

Sadly, the candy ran out a little past 9 p.m. I had been dreading that moment, since I figured it would be akin to cutting a ride line at Disney World. How do you gently tell the line of people at your fence, "Uh, sorry, the well just ran dry?" I was handing out candy at that point, but when I saw that the bucket was just about empty, I managed to defty slip away just before the moment of truth.

Another Halloween is now over, and I finally got to see (and experience) the craziness for myself. Next year, I'm not even going to bother sticking around Duloc Manor at all. I'm heading downtown early, armed with bags of goodies to donate to my hosts, and I'll enjoy my favorite holiday as only those fortunate enough to live in Celebration can enjoy it!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We're over at our villa from the U.K. and decided we would go and see how halloween is celebrated us style. Its a much smaller affair in the UK. We were driving thru Celebration at the same time as you and were amazed at the hoards of people, and the houses with fantastic decorations were being mobbed. It was great to see!