Noe Valley Voice October 2004

Halloween Casts Its Spell on the Neighborhood

By Laura McHale Holland

Noe Valley has much to offer on Halloween, including a resident fire-eater. His name is Owen Baker-Flynn, and for the past 15 years, he's been captivating pint-sized ghouls, damsels, wizards, pirates, skeletons, cheerleaders, ninjas--and their parents--on Oct. 31.

This year is no exception. Baker-Flynn will be eating as well as juggling fire on the 3800 block of 22nd Street between Noe and Castro streets, beginning at around 6:30 p.m. and continuing until the crowds peter out.

"My neighbors are pretty into it," notes Baker-Flynn, who is a professional entertainer, husband to Alvarado teacher Laurie Baker-Flynn, and a father of two.

"They start asking in September, 'Are you practicing? Are you ready?' When I started doing it, I didn't think I'd be doing it 15 years later. I just wanted to be around for my kids' trick-or-treating, but now I don't dare take a gig on Halloween night. This is my gig."

Baker-Flynn is uncertain whether he'll be dressed in black or in one of his colorful costumes, but the fire should make him easy to spot. Meanwhile, you can find him at

No Ordinary Haunting Here

Another must-see on Halloween is Hoffman the Haunted Street, now in its 25th year. Organized by "Haunted House Lady" Marilyn Lucas and her many helpers, the whimsy will be swirling along Hoffman Avenue all the way from 25th Street to the firehouse at the corner of Hoffman and Alvarado.

"We'll have witches with black cats, brewing up some Halloween fun together, including magically transforming people with our spells," Lucas promises.

The enchantment will begin at 5 p.m. and will run until about 8 p.m. The first 300 children who brave the most haunted house on the street will receive treats.

Creepy Stories Wanted

Cover to Cover at 1307 Castro Street is also hoping to add to the spookiness on Halloween night with a haunted Halloween tour of the 'hood. The staff seek stories about neighborhood "ghoulies, ghosties, and other things that go bump in the Noe Valley night." Call 282-8080 or e-mail if you can contribute any spine-tingling tales.

Rummage for Your Costume

Searching for the right costume? The One Stop Party Shop, at the corner of 28th and Church streets, is chock full of costumes and props guaranteed to bring out the inner goblin in people of all ages.

Just for Fun (3982 24th Street) is also loaded with Halloween goodies. "We've got headdresses and masks, goofy glasses, and silly things. People can make themselves up to be scary, or sweet, or fun," says David Eiland, one of the store's owners. "We've even got vampire baby pacifiers for the little ones, and fake Billy Bob­brand teeth for people who want ugly teeth." (We'll be right over.)

If you are more of a do-it-yourself costume maker and party planner, two garage sales happening this month at the Noe Valley Ministry (1021 Sanchez Street) might provide just the duds you need.

First, the Noe Valley Co-op Nursery School will spread out many bundles of used clothing, toys, books, and household items at its mega-family garage sale on Saturday, Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Then on Saturday, Oct. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Ministry will host its own flea market and rummage sale, featuring equally huge mounds of clothes, books, records, CDs, kitchen gadgets, and furniture. There will also be refreshments and baked goods. If you have stuff to contribute to the flea market, phone 282-2317 to arrange for a pickup on Friday afternoon, Oct. 22.

Horses and Fire Trucks

Once again, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association will herald the harvest season with its annual Hayride and Sidewalk Sale. The event will be on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The hay-filled, horse-drawn wagon will pick up riders--both young and old--at Walgreen's on Castro near Jersey, then roll down 24th Street to Church. Then it will turn right on Church and loop back up Jersey to Castro, where treats, donated by Walgreen's and Noe Valley Bakery, will await the riders.

This year, there will also be firetrucks on display on 24th Street, as well as children's activities in the morning at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market. And as usual, local merchants will be passing out candy to scores of masked and painted gremlins on Halloween. Since the holiday falls on a Sunday, the shops will dole out the treats on Friday, Oct. 29 (when the school kids flood 24th Street), as well as on Halloween itself.

Fortunes Foretold

To get everyone in a properly jittery mood, and to give tykes a chance to make use of their fancy costumes, Glitter and Razz Productions is holding a Halloween Fair on Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia Street (near 22nd Street), starting at 1 p.m.

The fair will begin with storytelling and fortune-telling by Madame Razz. She hails from Ireland and has traveled the world swapping fortunes for stories. This is actually part of a series of family entertainment events running from Oct. 16 through Dec. 11. Tickets are $8 for kids and $10 for adults. For more details, call 759-5765 or visit

Day of the Dead

On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Mission Library, on 24th near Valencia, is putting the spotlight on the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated widely in Mexico. At noon, Anita De Lucio-Brock will show people of all ages how to make Day of the Dead altars. After that, Elizabeth McCarthy and Company will do a sugar skull demonstration. Sugar skull is a traditional craft associated with the Day of the Dead.

"The belief is that on November 1 and 2 each year, the dead come back to visit the living," says Ana-Elba Pavon, children's services manager at the Mission Library. "The idea is to have some of their favorite items here available to them. So, if the altar is for someone in the family who passed away during the year, you might put their picture there and their favorite foods, coffee, or drinks. And you decorate with bright colors and flowers--the marigold is the flower of the dead."

Pavon emphasizes that the Day of the Dead is a happy occasion. "It's not scary like Halloween. It dates back to the Aztecs, who believed death is not a bad thing. It's just a natural cycle of life."

Call 355-2828 for more information and reservations, which are highly recommended. These are just some of the treats in store this month. The tricks are up to you. *