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30 Oct 2011

Manly Halloween Festival

As a compulsive list person, it is apparent that one of the first things I do in any new environment, is make a list. I arrived in Australia last year and settled myself in. Then I made a list. A list of things that would go on my pseudo-bucket list. Let me call it the wish tree. I don't really have a name for it. Maybe I'll think up one soon. 

One of the things on the list was to do a Halloween thing. I suppose it broadly meant getting out and about, dressed in costume. I did not have a real plan. Maybe I wanted to go pub crawling. Maybe I wanted to go trick-and-treat-ing. I don't know. Nothing happened last year, except it remained on the list. This year, a friend suggested checking out the Manly Halloween Festival. I was pretty sure it was kids stuff and not sure I was that desperate. In the end, I did go. Not in costume, of course. Just loose trousers and a tee. The curiosity of the what might be in the parade enabled the trip. It turned out be much more fun that I had expected. 

We arrived there early enough to see the cars being prepared for the Street Parade in the evening. Up and close enough to examine some of them. A number of makeshit stalls, in the form of little tents, lined the main street. They had everything from bits for costumes to toys and candies. The best thing about parades, of course, is that the roads are closed to traffic. Well, maybe not the best but I like walking on the street without having to look left and right for speeding cars. People dressed in garbs of red, black and other bizzare colours strolled along the road, trying to look as creepy as possible. The abuse of colours was apparent, as is wont in any Halloween event. While the adults stuck to their dark sides, the kids dressed up in costumes ranging from vampires to superheroes. There was also the odd angel, princess or warrior, among some kids. Mushy parents, I suppose. 

We picked one side of the road and cruised through the stalls, as you do at such events, knowing fully well that we had no intention of buying anything. The sellers watched, quietly assessing whether you were just a passerby or a potential buyer. They seem to ignore you while you're looking but suddenly spring to life the moment you pick up one of their wares and show the slightest consideration of loosening your purse strings. We easily moved on from shops that sold generic stuff not related to Halloween. We stopped longer at the ones that had wigs, capes and other things that would be useless after that day. There were expensive stuff ($25 wigs! Really?) and there were the Chinese stuff ($5 wig anyone?). 

When we started off, little K was wearing a little mask and a tiger cap with antenna sticking out of his head. As we waited for the parade later that evening, my mate wore a B&W tribal wig with blood dripping off her vampire mouth. In my bright red wig, horns and vampire face paint, the Halloween item on my list was ready to be crossed off. K had the full face of a vampire, complete with the freaky expressions he was putting on. My mate's husband was our personal photographer, as husbands seem to end up most of the time.

The games spread over the festival campus were amazing. I wanted to be a kid myself, so I could try some of that stuff. The stage at one end of the road invited enthusiasts to take a free fencing lesson. You could walk around all afternoon and find something amusing at every turn. In true Aussie style, one family of witches, wizards and weirdos had a barbie set up near the beach (Aussie slang. barbie => barbecue). Beach, food, music and all things crazy. Halloween festival alright. 

The parade started in the evening. When you've spent an afternoon in a crowd filled with the creepiest and whackiest costumes, a street parade fails to ignite your senses much unless there was something different. Scores and scores of creeps walked the streets, failing to impress. Then the cars drove by. Ah! Creativity unleashed and gone berserk. It was freak-a-bulous! There may be some who think all that blood and violence freely roaming the parade would have a negative influence on the children. Get a life! This was fun. 

Maybe next year, I'll get a full costume and go pub crawling. Or trick-and-treating. In any case, Halloween is marked as done on my wish tree. 

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