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  • Damaris Chanza

Celebrating Halloween at Haunt O' Ween

The final days of October are slowly creeping up, which means the arrival of one of my favorite holidays – Halloween.

Admittedly, Halloween is not an actual holiday, yet it is still one of my favorite holidays. Every year I dress up in costumes relating to cartoon or movie/tv show characters, and I DIY most of my costumes. I've dressed up as Ernesto De La Cruz from Disney's Coco, the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, Jessie from Toy Story, and Mini Me from Austin Powers. I even DIY my pets' costumes. The dogs and the ferret have gone as gnomes and the justice league.

My family always went trick-or-treating until COVID made that unsafe, so I started throwing a Halloween party filled with games, prizes, and fun décor.

This year is my first Halloween "away" from family, so my boyfriend and I thought we would figure out a different way to celebrate. Unfortunately, not many children trick or treat in our area, so my hopes of giving out candy in costumes died.

Instead, we decided to attend Haunt O' Ween. Haunt O' Ween is "an immersive Halloween experience" with 200,000 sq ft of family-friendly picturesque décor, interactive activities, games, trick or treating, and thematic environments.

Despite our excitement, our work schedules made it complicated to find an excellent time to attend, but my love for spooky season would not be deterred because of our need to pay bills. However, that need and a tight schedule made it so that we didn't have enough time to change into costumes before attending the event, much to my dismay.

As soon as we arrived, before we even made it through security, the thematic environment could be seen from the parking lot. After a quick photo op under the welcoming archway, checked in, and received our 21 and over wristbands.

Upon entry was an eerie barn adorned with skeletonized animals, including bats and horses. Although the vibe was perfect, a barn full of dead animals was morbid, making me uncomfortable. Exiting the barn led us to a silly musical trio.

Then came the gates to a hauntingly beautiful cemetery. A giant skeleton hand was trying to crawl out of the ground as if Emily from the Corpse Bride was attempting to escape the underworld right before my eyes. Probably the cemetery's most horrifying and incredible display was the tree growing through a giant skeleton. As cool as it was, it was almost sad to think of a person forgotten for so long that a tree could grow through their ribcage. Nonetheless, it was fake, so a photo op was necessary.

We walked through a tunnel lit by blue light and covered in cobwebs. On the other side, we found a makeshift town. Everything could be drawn on with marker or chalk, including the cars and walls. Even a skeleton bartender display had scribbles all over his face. Here we grabbed an empanada and churro from a food truck, drew on an old car, and watched kids try to climb up a wall near some ghostly figures.

When done with our snacks, we walked through an archway leading us stack of hay bales with lots of oversized figurines, giant skeletons, spiders, and pumpkins. Every corner had a picturesque quality, with fun lighting and thematic backgrounds. In this section, I had a stranger temporarily dye my hair blue.

We walked through a witchy installation with dancers dressed up as a witch, a rag doll, and a scarecrow. I'm pretty sure the rag doll was strategically dancing in a way that would avoid her face in pictures.

Through a tunnel lit with blinking pumpkins was a trick-or-treating town. Even as adults, we walked through the little village to each uniquely decorated house with people in elaborate costumes.

At the end of the trail of houses was the common area. There were many different types of food, silly games, and inflatables for children. There was a beautiful one with gorgeous Maleficent-style horns for sale that I was regrettably unwilling to buy. We thought it was hilarious that each table had a pile of Taki's bags as their centerpiece. We took filtered pictures for some

Netflix show we'd never heard of and kneeled on damp hay to become rag dolls.

We ended our night by walking past their mini pumpkin patch and returning to the parking lot.

In retrospect, I would have loved to wear our silly costumes and spend time waiting in line to get our faces painted. Even still, the entire Haunt O' Ween experience would have been much more remarkable if we were ten years younger or at least brought children along with us. The Instagram-able quality of the backdrop is super appealing, but I'm not the type who wants to go somewhere with the sole intention of taking pictures. Still, October is not over, and there's still more time for spooky Halloween fun.

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