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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween in Los Angeles

One of our favorite events when we lived in Los Angeles ended up being Halloween, which is ironic because it's actually my least favorite "holiday."

A little background: our first month living in L.A., we took our kids trick-or-treating: it was unlike anything we had experienced.

A local trick-or-treating neighborhood drew so many kids and parents at times it was hard to walk on the sidewalks. In addition to the boat-loads of candy, some people literally spent over $5000 a year to have their homes professionally decorated.

And we're not talking "Caspar the Friendly Ghost" here. In other contexts, exposing young children images of death, torture and the occult might result in a visit from child protective services.

Working with some friends who live in this same community, the next four years we created an alternative (some would call it an "anti") Halloween celebration.

A brightly lit home, upbeat music, a large puppet theater in the driveway, helium balloons, games for kids, and lots of candy were all part of the mix. "Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good" wrote the Apostle Paul (Romans 12:21). We were OK with candy one night a year - it's was the celebration of everything "dark" that we tried to avoid.

We called it "Light Up the Night" - I'm sure the name is not original with us.
Here are a few photos:

No, this is not Disneyland - just the driveway of our friends' home. At the busiest time there were sixty kids and parents hanging out.

Another view when things mellowed out a bit. Helium balloons that said "Light Up the Night" were a huge hit - we ran out.

We could have not have done this without friends from our church. One year, a couple of guys involved in the entertainment industry set up live video feed this year - so kids could "be on TV." Fun. It's also something our kids and others could be involved with: handing out balloons, candy, or running the puppet theater. I heard some teenagers running by who refer to it as the "Jesus house." Sure, why not.

We created a little card for kids and parents that said "Light Up the Night" in multiple languages and explaning why we were doing what we were doing.

One parent told me "people all over are talking about this house. People in Santa Monica, Brentwood ... I'm here because a friend at work said 'you gotta see this one house'"

We can't verify if that's true, but the four years we did it, we got great feedback from appreciative parents.

We lived in Arizona for four years before moving to Los Angeles. Our church there had a HUGE annual Halloween event at the church, attracting thousands of people every year. The year we moved the church canceled the event. Why? Because it was attracting thousands of Christians. The church challenged small groups to work to impact individual communities and neighborhoods. Something, I like to think, like "Light Up the Night."

It was a blast turning my least favorite holiday into one of my most favorite events.

All part of our family experiencing Los Angeles.

© 2011 - originally posted 11/1/2008


Car Dealers Los Angeles said...

I spent this Halloween checking out the gigantic parade on Santa Monica Blvd in Weho. Not exactly a family environment but very different and a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

their "alternative" to Halloween in a neighborhood is about as different as you can get from Weho (West Hollywood) ...