Happy Halloween from Catland!
First, a thank you to the community mod for catching my error (I posted this in the wrong community!)
1.) What was your first Halloween costume you can remember?: I was a fox. We were living at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota. Anyone who has even approached North Dakota in October knows how ridiculously cold it can get there, and my mother, fearing frostbite, bundled me up like Randy from "A Christmas Story". This was not a costume, of course, so she knitted a pointy nose with whiskers and a pair of pointy ears onto a red ski mask, and suddenly I was a fox!
2.) What is your favorite aspect of Halloween (the costumes, decorations, parties...): Yes. All of 'em. There is nothing I do not love about the holiday, and I celebrate the religious (I'm a Shaman) aspects of the day as well.
3.) If you could plan one special Halloween party for all of your friends, how would you do it?: Ah, I have been adding to this fantasy every year! First, everyone would arrive on one of four sides of a large outdoor maze (I envision tall stacks of hay, but I could use plywood walls, too). They would then race through the maze to the center. Prizes would be given for the first from each side to reach it. The center of the maze would be a large clearing with one or more long tables laden with food. Once everyone arrived, we would sit down to eat, and while everyone was eating, the maze would be restructured so there was only one exit and filled with haunted house effects. Boards would be placed across the walls in places, blocking out much of the moonlight (the dinner would end a little after sunset), and workers in costume would terrorize guests (and help them out of the maze should they become lost). At the exit of the maze, a path lined with Jack o'lanterns would lead guests to a large empty house (money is not an object in this fantasy) where they could use the bathroom, hang out, dance and play other games for a while. Movies would be playing in different rooms, but after about an hour (during which time workers posing as guests would be quietly setting up effects around the house and outside) the power in the house would suddenly die, and haunted house lighting (running on batteries or on different breakers in the house) would turn on. Workers would be in each room to help keep guests from panicking or getting hurt and to help usher them out of the house. The path lined with jack o'lanterns would have been reset to lead people through the woods to a clearing with several campfires and a stage. Here guests would hang out, roast food on sticks, and there would be a costume contest and a storytelling contest onstage. After that, the workers would be brought forward and thanked, and the organized events would be over. People would be free to sleep at the house or at the campfires. A small ceremony would be held later in the woods for my pagan friends.
4.) What's your favorite trick? Or your favorite treat?: For me, seeing the reactions of people to my costumes is the biggest treat. Since 1999, I have been making more elaborate costumes each year, using everything from chicken wire (a staple), melted garbage bags, PVC tubing, liquid latex, fiberglass, truck bed lining, bullhorns, speakers, car headlights, paper mache...you name it, I have probably used it somewhere in a costume. Also, I spend October 31st in a different city each year. This year it's going to be New York.
5.) What is your fondest Halloween memory?: Telling a ghost story I wrote at the Vampire Lestat Masquerade Ball in New Orleans a few years ago.
6.) What reminds you the most of Halloween?: There is a change in the air. It's a scent, a feeling.
7.) Post a picture, send a recipe, a poem, anything you'd like. I don't know how to post a picture here yet, but I would be happy to if someone could teach me. So instead I will share a haunted house technique that I have found scares over 98% of patrons; even the hardcore are not immune! You start with a door frame (or build your own. The important thing is to ensure that your patrons walk past it, not towards it). Anchor the end of a long 4' x 4' board to a chain or rope and hang it from the ceiling. Make certain that the ceiling can support the weight of the board and whatever you build onto it.) Next, nail a thick plywood board across the 4' x 4'. Ensure that it is longer than the width of the door frame! This is of prime importance, so you don't hurt your haunted house customers. Once this is done, staple chicken wire to the side of the the boards that the patrons will see. You can mold the chicken wire into any shape you want (I made a giant, fanged skull). Cover the chicken wire with paper mache and paint. The point of the effect is this: As patrons walk past the door (use lighting to direct their attention elsewhere so they do not try to walk through the frame and get hit), someone working in the haunted house stands on the other side of the door frame, holding the board up and away from the frame. The worker releases the board, which will swing down on the chain or rope and crash into the frame. The loud noise and sudden appearance just feet away of a giant skull (or whatever you design) is a guaranteed shock. The year I built that, only two people did not jump and scream when that effect went off, and they were two of the people who helped build it.