Halloween 2006: Dead Man's Party 

Even unseasonably cold temperatures and strong winds could do nothing to dampen the high spirits for the annual Dead Man's Party, the largest, most elaborate, and most enjoyable yet!

First, Morrigan the witch flew to a safe location near the enchanted cemetary. She wrote sacred protection runes on the nearby sidewalk, and began her brew containing snake venom, frogs, glowing caterpillars, and other secret ingredients. The recipe is so complex, it's written in her spellbook with magic ink - well, we hope it's ink - that can be read by only her and her rat familiar:

While the stew is reaching the perfect consistency, her black cat familiar waits patiently to alert her to the exact moment when the Grim Reaper begins his nightly journey:

... as his expectant bride waits patiently for his return. We're not sure exactly what she's carrying or the precise term of pregnancy for a werewolf corpse. Perhaps she'll drop her little bundle of joy in time to join the festivities next year:

Meanwhile, as Morrigan's brew and incantations take effect, there are stirrings from underground in the graveyard:

One by one, all the partygoers rise to join the Dead Man's Party. On hand was butler Edward Jeeves, to ensure all the guests were properly greeted, seated, and fed - and to scare away any human gatecrashers.

The usual participants - Jack Skeleton, the Right Hand of Doom, the Invisible Man, and Bob - were joined by Bob's date, the very voluptuous Mummy. Little did the guys know that she was destined to drink them under the table AND smoke them at cards!

All that was left was the ceremonial lighting of the candles. Fortunately, a friend of the family who had driven over an hour to visit is also the Keeper of the Sacred Fire for one of the largest pagan gatherings in the United States. He graciously agreed to perform the lighting duties to officially open the proceedings. Keeping the flames lit in the gusty winds proved to be quite a challenge, especially with Jeeves otherwise engaged with trick-or-treaters. Those who came attired in robes found that raising or lowering their arms would correspondingly raise or lower the flames as well, which proved to be more fun than it had any right to be. My living friends did a terrific job of acting as additional characters, even going so far as to growl and hiss at passersby, whisper arcane secrets into the ears of the Dead Men, and supply a wedding ring for the corpse bride.

The 100+ brave souls who visited the gathering seemed to have a great time, and all were on their very best behavior. Jeeves was standing in just the right position to ensure that he would speak to approaching trick-or-treaters, and he caused more than one startled child to jump and "eek" at the appropriate moments. Compliments and excellent suggestions abounded, and during quieter times, polite visitors were permitted to mingle with the Dead Men without a single loss or casualty. Neighbors left the comfort and safety of their homes to express their admiration and offer help ranging from extension cords to guard duty. One friendly smart alec stopped by "to make sure we realized it was Halloween."

The celebration was a tremendous success, even if all the family members agree that it was disturbingly easy to use elements from our real garden to create a spooky graveyard. Plans for next year are already under way!

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