By David Broyles
October 30, 2013
Receiving a greeting from the tallest Santa I’ve ever seen on Monday at Surry Community’s Spooktacular reminded me just how much fun can be had seasonally. He told me he started out just like me, which was as inspirational a talk as I have received recently.
I was told families began lining up at 5 p.m. for the event which started at 5:30 p.m. Middle school students could choose from a variety of ghoulish versions of cornhole and other games and refreshments such as pizza and chicken stew. The stick and spoon race and the bouncy houses saw heavy participation and I saw one child, dressed as a policeman, put away a doughnut on a string before I could frame and shoot with my camera. Impressive.
The costumes were great as well. I saw several great versions of Robin as well as a brother duo dressed as the dynamic duo. College staffers were caught up in the spirit of the event and sported some great ensembles as well. There was Captain America, Superman (classic and new Man of Steel), witches (harvest and old school), royalty (some appeared to have just stepped out of their pyramid), death angels, death in all shapes and sizes, and ninja turtles. I’m telling you, at times fun exceeded the square footage in the Shelton-Badgett center.
In between pictures, (I’m going to have to mix holiday metaphors here), it occurred to me I have become kind of a Scrooge about Halloween. This didn’t happen all at once. It began as I spent more time during high school and summer in jobs which involved acting.
Call me jaded, but after 44 performances of the same show in the same way at the same time in the same place putting on the same makeup and an outfit and leaving yourself behind for a little bit just didn’t have the same oomph. I had considered outdoor drama merely “tending” on an adult scale until one evening during “The Long Way Home” in Radford, Va., word came back stage that an audience member wanted to see “that British general.”
In case you want to know, The Long Way Home drama centered around Laura Draper Ingles, who was kidnapped by native Americans, later escaped and followed the river for hundreds of miles to get back home. That particular summer I had the parts of the general and the really mean Indian chief, Wild Horse.
Expecting the worst, I made my way to the stage. The lady rushed up and threw her arms around me in tears. She told me how homesick she was as a student and wanted to know what part of the UK I was from. She was dying to talk to someone from back home.
My heart sank as I had to truthfully answer her in my natural drawl and tell her she was the first Brit I’d had the honor to meet. She was crushed. I sat on the stage and talked with her for a while, trying to prompt her to share memories. She didn’t talk long. I never felt as careless about trying to fool an audience into thinking I was someone else. After that, I didn’t dress up unless it was my job. Later, I dropped back into the Halloween habit with my children, who are grown now.
Suddenly, Spooktacular reminded me of my family’s yearly Halloween neighborhood party which is organized along the lines of a church pot-luck meal where we all retreat after sending out our kids like costumed, candy seeking torpedoes. Just on a larger scale. I think I’ll try to make the effort to stay there a little longer this year.
I have a hunch the arrival of granddaughter Kaeby has something to do with this. She’s already got me hooked on The Mickey Mouse Club again and I can’t wait until I see her meet Scooby Do. Have a safe and “boo-tiful” time out there.