Spreading the spook

It’s nearly Halloween, and Princeton is crawling with characters, kids, cobwebs and cabinets full of candy. While trick or treating is a holiday staple, there are all sorts of ways to celebrate – from parades and haunted hayrides to decorating pumpkins.

Some are well acquainted with a typical Halloween celebration, with memories cemented in childhood, while others are new to the myriad of All Hallows Eve traditions. Whatever your favorite, whoever your costume, The Sun is set on spreading the spook!

Princeton resident Lindsay Ofrias grew up in Long Island, N.Y., and recalls the fun – and fears – her family had together.

“Every year, we’d do those scary walks through the forest – Spooky Walks I think they’re called. We lived near the woods, but there’s something about going into them at night,” Ofrias said. “The scariest one I remember was when you walked into a room and the floor was made of mesh, so it was hard to walk; there were strobe lights so you couldn’t see well to get out, and there were people with weapons everywhere. It was terrifying!”

Besides Spooky Walks, Ofrias’ parents once threw her a party with the all the classic traditions such as bobbing for apples.

This year, Ofrias is dressing up as her grandmother, Georgina Ofrias Terranova, who turned 91 Oct. 16. To capture the look of her grandma in her earlier years, Ofrias borrowed the dress she wore to a wedding some time ago. She also will wear her grandmother’s fur stole.

To complete the festivities, Ofrias will probably travel into Manhattan for the Halloween parade – a tradition that has become her own.

Melissa Leiva moved to Princeton from Chile six years ago and has grown fond of the local festivities.

“We went to the pumpkin patch last week and are looking forward to the Halloween parade in town. We now celebrate the same as you here,” Leiva said – brushing her 15-month-old son’s hair away from his face.  “Benjamin is going to be a dragon, and my daughter is going to be a witch. The kids have a lot of fun, and I start to see I have fun, too! I like it. There are a lot of good traditions.”

Leiva’s mother-in-law, Sara Engel, explained how in Chile there is no Halloween.Within the last couple years, though, companies have begun to market costumes and pumpkins in attempts to adapt some of the U.S. decoration market.

“This will be my first Halloween in the states,” said Cristina Laze, who was visiting Leiva from Chile. “All the kids are have been decorating all week. I see the big customs. I will dress too and go and have fun with the kids.”

Laze smiled.

Lisa Dreiseitl will also be celebrating her first Halloween in the U.S. – having moved recently from Germany to be an au pair.

“I came home yesterday with my friend who has never seen Halloween in the U.S., and the family was decorating the whole house. It was so funny to see,” said Dreiseitl, who is looking forward to celebrating with the children with whom she works.

Sarah and Dave Rechner have not immersed themselves in Halloween activities quite yet but have gotten accustomed to handing out candy and taking their sons trick or treating.

“I’m going to be Captain America,” 3-year-old Ethan said. “My favorite is the candy.”

“And he loves seeing everybody in their costumes,” his mother added.

Ethan’s little brother will also be dressing up – most likely as a superhero – but the specifics are yet to be determined.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida