Halloween is often regarded as the night of the dead, but in the manicured streets of Miramar it is very much alive.
Venessa Stables' home in Para St will become a "Circus of Misfortune and Tragedy" today - a ghoulish and extravagant project that has cost her thousands of dollars, an army of volunteers, and an exhaustive decorating schedule of 12-hour days.
"I have always liked Halloween and I just sort of get carried away and it gets bigger and bigger," she said.
She has had the Halloween party for the past three years, attracting up to 1000 trick-or-treaters each year. This year she's expecting more.
"The little kids, they really love it. It's such a festive feeling in the air."
This year, she will have a gypsy reading "your misfortune", a magician's assistant sawn in half, a snake charmer covered in snake bites, a popcorn stand with toppings including frog sludge and blood, a roulette wheel of misfortune, and more.
Even her dogs will be dressed as a lion and an elephant.
On entry, children get a ticket that they can use for one of the attractions before moving on to get a bag of treats, many donated by local businesses. They can re-enter for more attractions.
Mrs Stables has been hosting the parties for years, at previous homes in Newlands and in Auckland, despite not having kids of her own. "That's the only reason I can afford it."
Her aunt, Waikato farmer Dennise Kerney, travels to Wellington each year to help out. This year she appears as a ringmaster.
The house, on the corner of Para and Brussels streets, is open for trick-or-treaters from 3.30pm till 8pm. Mrs Stables was still keen to hear from volunteers yesterday.
A nearby house in Devonshire Rd has been hosting trick-or-treaters for 14 years.
Owner Michelle Lamb said last year the house attracted more than 3000 people.
The first year only 30 children came but that doubled in the second year and had grown substantially since.
All the decorations and props were made by herself and her husband, who was a builder. "Our best prop this year is Vomit Man: he continuously vomits. He's pretty cool."
Halloween is said to have originated from a Celtic festival known as Samhain, celebrating the start of the northern winter. It was believed to be the night the dead came back to life to cause havoc and sickness.
Stay in well-lit areas.
Although Halloween is meant to be spooky, be careful not to frighten elderly people.
Don't enter any house. Stay on the doorstep.
Only go to where you or your friends know the residents.
Always go trick or treating with an adult.
Stay with your friends. Don't split into smaller groups unless an adult is with you.
Don't knock on doors where there is a sign saying, "No trick or treat here".
Don't talk to strangers on the street.
Understand what a prank is.
The police website has posters to discourage trick or treaters.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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