October is the month of pumpkins and harvest celebrations which date back centuries, and the end of October in many traditions has been a time to honor the dead—some traditions say that the “veil between the worlds” becomes thinner and, depending on our beliefs, we may feel the presence of our ancestors more keenly. Samhain, a Gaelic tradition, is celebrated between sunset October 31 and sunset November 1, almost exactly the mid-point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. Western Christianity changed the focus to All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day November 2. In modern times, many of us celebrate Halloween with tricks or treats, scary monsters, ghosts and goblins.
The weather is chillier, days are shorter, and it’s time for pumpkin soup and baked gingerbread. I like to remember back to school days, when even though it started to get dark early, late October felt like a cozy time at home after school. Here in Fort Bragg, we’ve got a variety of activities happening. The Mendocino Coast Friends of Hospice is sponsoring a Mexican tradition with the Day of the Dead altar walk.
Local merchants create beautiful altars in their businesses along Main, Laurel, Redwood, and Franklin and the altar displays can be enjoyed all month long. Altar Walk maps can be found at the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce or at any of the participating businesses. There will also be an Altar Hall in the community room at Fort Bragg Library October 30 from noon to 4:00 and on October 31 and November 1 from 10 to 4:00.
Three great places to find costumes are The Hospice Thrift Store in the Boatyard Shopping Center, The Ark Thrift Store at the roundabout, and the Paul Bunyan Thrift Store on Main Street. Go early if you can – people like to get their costumes ready for the big night!
Fun Halloween Events for the Whole Family
At the CV Starr Center, families can enjoy a day of fun on Saturday, October 29 from 1:00 to 4:00 with cookie decorating, costumes, Halloween magic tricks, and a swim for pumpkins event in their unique “Aquatic Pumpkin Patch.” All ages are welcome for the price of admission (members free), and 100 pumpkins will be handed out to the first 100 people who show up for the event.
Another kid-friendly event on Saturday is the Halloween Spooktacular at Emerald Dolphin Inn from noon to 4:00 where kids are sure to love the Haunted House, costume contest, games, and hay rides along with Halloween treats and surprises.
The Haunted Hall of Horrors
The Haunted Hall of Horrors is not for very young kids or the faint of heart. It promises to be a very scary venue, indeed. Young people will probably be a lot braver than their parents, and the good news is that that all proceeds for the event go for anti-bullying programs and youth projects on the Mendocino coast. The setting of this haunted house is the Masonic Hall on Main Street in Fort Bragg and it will be open Fridays and Saturdays October 21, 22, 28, 29 and Halloween night, Monday, October 31.