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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Experiencing L.A. on Halloween: "Light Up The Night"

Just a month after moving to Los Angeles, we took our kids trick-or-treating.

I'm not sure if it was living in a big city, or trick-or-treating in neighborhoods with too much money, or just the Hollywood influence ... but it was unlike anything we had experienced.

Friends of ours recommended a "popular" neighborhood here on the westside. That was an understatement: there were so many kids and parents at times it was hard to walk on the sidewalks - it was that crowded.

Was it just being a dad of young kids (my kids were 3 and 5 at the time) or are costumes creepier than in the past?

Some houses looked like professionally designed sets from horror films; neighbors seemed to compete with each other on who has most terrifying and realistic house. I thought trick or treating was for kids - does anyone else have a problem with young children being shown images of death, torture and the occult? What's really scary is when we as adults start to get used to this - and it no longer shocks.

I mentioned this to a friend, who shared how busy his street was as well. I asked him if he'd like to work together to create an "alternative" Halloween celebration. Thus was born "Light Up the Night." I'm sure the name isn't original with us - but we liked it. 

A brightly lit home, upbeat music, a large puppet theater in the driveway, helium balloons, and lots of candy are all part of the mix. We were OK with the candy - it was the celebration of everything "dark" that we tried to avoid. 

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

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 in Los Angeles. 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 the westside are talking about this house ... 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 who were looking for an alternative from everything else up and down the street.

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.

© 2014 - originally posted 11/1/2008


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