We did things a little different this year.
Normally we spend a bunch of time decorating the house, getting the inside and outside all ready, and get two sets of pumpkins - one in September just for decorations, and the other for carving. We work on our costumes as a family and are all ready well before Halloween.
This year we were contacted by a friend who was involved with the town recreation department. Seems they wanted to restart the traditional Haunted House that had been held for many years in the old basement of the local Congregational Church, but hadn't been done is a couple of years. Since we're well known in town for dressing up each year, and for using a family theme, we were tapped early on to volunteer.
The Haunted House is entirely a volunteer effort, and sought to allow the town some fun and cheap thrills, while helping to fund other activities for the recreation department throughout the year. So we started having organizational meetings. The leader of the effort had stated that he was very interested in us being 'The Star Wars Family', as that is a very popular theme for us. We would work outside, along the line, entertaining people before they entered.
As ideas for scenes started to arise, a great many came from the two seats next to my wife and I ... and one in particular. Now you have to know my younger son - he has a tremendous imagination, and is scared of loads of things. So he comes up with the idea for a monster laboratory in which people are fed potions which turns them into monsters, and there is all kinds of scary stuff going on. He describes it is pretty decent detail ... and everyone is very enthusiastic. He also talks about a haunted fortune teller who has bad fortunes for everyone. My other son talks about a cemetary full of zombie animals. There is other stuff that they talked about that there wasn't the time of people to get done.
As it came time to put it all together, between Cub Scouts and my older son getting sick, I was alone in helping with assembly for the week. The Haunted House was running Friday and Saturday nights, so Thursday night we planned a final walkthrough and dress rehearsal. It was cold that night, which was good becuase it told us we didn't dress heavily enough under the costumes - so we made a note to bundle up better. When it came to the walkthrough, we didn't even get inside and my son was *done*. No way was he going in ... eventually we convinced him to stand by the Fortune Teller at the door so we could help out inside and the outside door could be closed.
Friday night, we arrived early - the doors opened at 6PM and we wanted to have ourselves ready to go. The temperature was about 30 degrees at 5:30 when we left the house. We had a few canned skits - one with a Stormtrooper capturing Princess Leia and bringing her to Darth Vader, only to have Luke cut down the Stormtrooper and do battle with Vader to cover Leia's escape. Others included playing out chases and battles from the movies and improvising scenes - these mainly were done to involve people in line, Luke and Leia would try to keep them safe from the Imperials, and I would go around menacing them into revealing the location of Leia or the rebels. It was all great fun, but after three hours we were exhausted and done.
We didn't get to view the haunted house in action the first night, which was fine - there was another night to go! Saturday night was just about as cold, but we had dressed well the previous night. This time we brought a mug of hot chocolate for everyone and some water. It only took us about an hour to feel 'done' the second night, and then we struggled for a bit, but found a good improvisational rhythm and thorought enjoyed the last hour or so.
As the line dwindled, we had the chance to go through the Haunted House ourselves. Not surprisingly my younger son wasn't interested, but my older son was. So he and I went through - it was great seeing everything completed and in action, and it was fun. Apparently my younger son was starting to freak out that we had been gone too long and that perhaps something had happened, but we came out unscathed. A clean-up session ensued, and we went home and all fell into bed exhausted.
After all of that activity and a busy weekend of soccer and cub scout hikes, Halloween was upon us - we hadn't finished decorating, and it was Sunday before we got our pumpkins. We had a relaxing and fun time carving them, and my wife put out a few more exterior decorations for Monday. Trick or Treat was done as ... yep, the Star Wars family. My wife never got dressed - for which she took a good deal of grief from the neighborhood kids and adults alike. We saw some of the people who had participated in the haunted house, and collapsed into bed full of sugar.
We probably won't do that again next year - standing outside for three hours a night isn't much fun and we know better than to be located inside. But for this year it was some wonderful Halloween Fun.