Halloween fun: Costumed creatures will haunt the town

Ghosts, ghouls, demons and devils, skeletons clanking down the street like piles of old silverware, they’ll all be out. Halloween’s comin’ — and costumed candy-seekers will haunt the streets of village and town.

The downtown Halloween Walk is Saturday morning, Oct. 28, from 10 to noon and attracts “literally thousands” of kids, according to Selectwoman Barbara Manners, whose Holiday Trust Fund pays for the police who close Main Street between Governor and Prospect from 9:45 to noon.

The Police Department Children’s Halloween Party is Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, from 5 to 9 at the Community Center’s Lounsbury House. It’s free, and meant for kids age 12 and under.

“This is a true community event and the party is planned and organized by Ridgefield police officers and Ridgefield teens,” said Capt. Jeff Kreitz, the department’s public information officer.

Included in the festivities will be candy, glow necklaces, a balloon twister, music and a gypsy fortune teller.

The Lounsbury House will be decorated and a handful of town organizations will be taking part in a trunk-or-treat in the front of the building, Kreitz said.

Safety tips   

As darkness falls Tuesday, Halloween creatures will wander the streets.

Capt. Kreitz offered Halloween safety tips:

  • Be visible. Always carry a flashlight and affix reflective tape to costumes.
  • Trick or treat in groups and with a trusted adult.
  • Avoid wearing masks — they can obstruct vision.
  • Always cross streets at crosswalks, if available. Look both ways before crossing and never assume drivers see you. Always walk, never run crossing streets.
  • Use sidewalks where available. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Trick-or-treat only at well-lit homes.
  • Instruct children to never enter the home or vehicle of a stranger.
  • Have children bring home candy before eating so it can be inspected by parents. Never eat unwrapped treats.
  • Report all suspicious activity immediately to police — 911 for emergencies, 203-438-6531 for routine calls.
  • Be visible, be alert and be safe.

‘A little crazy’

Ridgefield’s village, blessed with sidewalks, is a Halloween destination.

“About 3,500 trick-or-treaters,” Val Jensen said of the action at her Main Street home. They start around 4:45, she said, and go to about 8.

“It does get a little crazy,” said Peggy Loehr, another Main Street resident.

“...It’s like Rockefeller Center at Christmas time, looking at the tree, practically.”

How many Halloween visitors come to her door?

“2,000 2,500 people through the night, that includes parents also,” she said.”They start about 4 o’clock and historically everything’s done by 8:30, 9 — which is good for us.

“We enjoy ourselves and I have plenty of friends that it’s a tradition that they come over and dress up and give out candy.” she said.

“I have at least four or five husbands and wives. Anne O’Rourke, the principal at St. Mary’s, she comes over every year, and dresses up as a witch.”

That gets some reactions.

“You need help,” Loehr said. “You can’t do it yourself, it’s too much.”

Her own children are grown, but sometimes they come home — especially when Halloween falls on a weekend.

“We make a fun night of it,” Loehr said. “It’s great tradition at our house.”

How much candy does she buy for Halloween?

“I probably spend $400,” Loehr said.

The numbers have been growing.

“We moved here in ’93 and for the first eight years it was not many kids at all, and then each year it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s a great night. The past few years it’s been mild out, It’s just another tradition.”

Off Main Street

Suzie Fox has counted trick-or-treaters visiting her Catoonah Street home. The low was 125 kids in 2008, her first year there. The high was 290 in 2010. Last year 263 came.

“It’s nothing like Main Street,” she said.

Still, it’s busy.

“You just sit by the front door, or out on the front porch if it’s warm enough. You can’t eat dinner or anything,” she said.

And there’s New Street.

“On the average year I guess I go through $500, $600 worth of candy,” said Bill Franzen.

He’s the mad maestro whose New Street yard becomes a crazed stage set where one unsettling scene bleeds into another — nightmare hillbillies, bloodthirsty pirates, decapitated dolls …

A friend, Steve Jaehnig, helps with the annual ritual of dragging out the weird stuff, dressing dummies, setting up lights, fog machines, music.

“We repeat some scenes but we kind of tweak them, or add a different character, try to have each scene have a little bit of a story — quite a few are open to interpretation,” Franzen said.

He’s been at it for two decades.

“I started around ’93, it was small — I had a few characters, some dry ice.”

He tried to quit, announced the end, gave away his oddball stuff.

Then, like an addict, he started again — thinking maybe he’d just do something small.

Now it’s back to a major effort that begins with sorting the crazy stuff and testing extension cords in August.

“Mid-September it gets real serious,” he said.

“It’s a lot of logistics, the creative part is still happening.”

The folks that live around him get in the spirit, and many of them do their yards as well — and, at the least, they tolerate Franzen’s craziness.

“I’m so lucky to have good neighbors,” he said.

It’s become a tradition not just for Franzen and the neighborhood, but for the town and for people who come to see it.

“You know what’s great? Almost every Halloween somebody will bring their visitor from some European country,” Franzen said. “Oh my gosh, they’ve never experienced Halloween and all of sudden they’re in the middle of New Street and the road is closed and our house looks nuts — it barely looks like a house.”