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Noe Valley Gets Into the Spirit of Halloween
By Olivia Boler
When the weather in San Francisco turns warm, it can only mean summer is over and fall is on its way. It also means you need to dust off your broomstick, for one of Noe Valley's favorite holidays is right around the corner -- Halloween.
You can start off autumn on Saturday, Oct. 7, with a hayride down 24th Street sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a horse-drawn dray wagon will pick up passengers in front of the Walgreen's at Castro and Jersey, then cart them down 24th to Sanchez, where the ride will turn right on Sanchez, then head back to Walgreen's on Jersey Street. The horses come from Carriage Charter in Sebastopol and are very well cared for by their owners. If the day is hot as it has been in the past, you might see the horses lathering and panting like dogs, but fear not; this is the way horses perspire, and they are given plenty of water, oats, and hay throughout the afternoon.
The hayride is free and open to children and adults alike. Michael Glazer of Allstate Insurance, who organized the ride for the Merchants Association, says to expect some new additions to the afternoon's festivities. Shops along 24th Street will hold a Hayride Sidewalk Sale, and there'll be a raffle and other giveaways. If you would like to volunteer to help out with the hayride, contact Glazer at 642-6569.
Halloween itself falls on a Tuesday this year, and many shops in Noe Valley will participate in the celebration. Carol Yenne, owner of Small Frys, the children's clothes store on 24th Street near Castro, says most shops will give candy to trick-or-treaters from 5 to 6 p.m. Just for Fun, the stationery and gift shop down the street, usually hands out small toys. Yenne notes that students from St. Paul's, St. Philip's, and the Noe Valley Nursery School often make the rounds between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
What's Halloween without a costume competition? Real Food Company at 24th and Sanchez will hold its fifth annual costume contest on Halloween Day. Stop by any time that day to get your child's picture taken. The results of the contest will be displayed in the window the next day, according to Manager David Kloski. And, of course, don't forget to collect your treats.
The Noe Valley Library at 451 Jersey St. will hold two special Halloween events. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m., Children's Librarian Carol Small will host a Halloween story time and "lapsit" for toddlers. Children and adults are invited to come in costume, and refreshments will be served. On Halloween Day, Small will read some of her favorite Halloween stories during the weekly preschool story time starting at 10 a.m. Expect to see decorations and Halloween books, as well as ghost stories and scary stories, displayed in the Children's Room after Oct. 1.
Halloween would not be complete without a pumpkin patch, and Mikeytom Market at Church and Day streets provides just that. "Halloween is a really fun time, one of our favorites of the year. We're planning on going all out with the pumpkin patch this year," says Tom Maravilla, co-owner of the grocery store.
The staff gets dressed up in costume on Halloween Day. Neon skeletons, haunted treasure chests, and cobwebs are just a few of the spooky decorations you can expect to encounter as you wander through the mountains of pumpkins. Maravilla claims that Mikeytom has the largest selection of organic pumpkins in San Francisco, and he hopes to sell over 10,000 pounds of pumpkins this season. He invites families to bring their cameras and take pictures of their little goblins, witches, and fairies as they seek out the perfect jack-o'-lantern squash. Pumpkins will be available after Oct. 1.
The Upper Noe Recreation Center at the corner of Day and Sanchez streets will have three Halloween celebrations: Kids' Gym from 10:30 a.m. to noon, the Tiny Tot Party from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; and the Community Party from 4 to 6 p.m. Carnival games with prizes and dress-up will be among the festivities. Witch's brew and cookies will be served. Also, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, the seniors will take a "Broomride to Pescadero," where they will visit Phipp's Ranch and have lunch at Duarte's. Call 695-5011 for information about any of these activities.
Finally, what is Halloween without a good haunting? Hoffman Avenue, once known solely for the creepy cottage possessed by the Haunted House Lady, has now become Haunted Hoffman Avenue. Marilyn Lucas of Lucas Realty bowed out last year from her annual role as the Haunted House Lady, but her neighbors have taken up the cause for ghoulish fun.
Says Lucas, "Five houses on Hoffman between Alvarado and 24th streets and the firefighters from Station 24 [100 Hoffman] have pledged 300 treats for 300 kids." There will be a haunted house in the 200 block, and ghosts and goblins on the loose. Lucas says to expect "giant rats" near her abode on Hoffman between Elizabeth and 24th. She herself will be dressed to "sweep up" those giant rats.
"In the past, we've had around 300 kids come through on Halloween. Parents know it's always been safe to go [to our street]," said Lucas. "We're into a second generation of trick-or-treaters now. Years ago, my paperboy used to come to my door in costume. Now he brings his kids!"
Adults should feel free to scamper through Haunted Hoffman Avenue, especially if they are on their way to the Castro for wilder festivities. The residents of Hoffman Avenue will expect trick-or-treaters from 5 to 8 p.m.
Books, Spells, and Candles
If you are looking for Halloween books to check out for your kids, Noe Valley Children's Librarian Carol Small recommends A Halloween Mask for Monster by Virginia Mueller, Harriet's Halloween Candy by Nancy Carlson, and The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.
For crafty help, I have used three books that are a lot of fun and filled with great activities, stories, and recipes. They are Halloween Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family by Donata Maggipinto, The Halloween Book by Jane Bull, and Halloween: Customs, Recipes, Spells, by Silver Ravenwolf. Enjoy!