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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This Is Halloween...town

I'm sure you've seen it. That cult classic movie Halloweentown, about a town where it's Halloween all the time. No, not The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is about a woman who's secretly a witch and her two children. Their grandmother comes to visit and they find out they have magic in the family...and then they go to Halloweentown. And then there are two sequels. 


Listen. I didn't make it. You can probably catch it a thousand times on Freeform this October, or at least once...after the Harry Potter Weekend happening right now that is. It's one of those movies that you either like or you hate. It's fun if you don't think too much about it, but it's the claim to fame of the city it was filmed in: St. Helens, Oregon. Each year they "transform" the city into Halloweentown in their own way and people from all over come to get in on the festivities.

                           City Hall (now a museum) that sits directly across from the town square


This year we had a little meetup of friends there and we all took a bunch of pictures and hung out to watch the parade. We went a few years ago and were fairly disappointed, because nothing on the "schedule" was actually happening, or you needed to book in advance. This time that was less of a problem, but still a problem. I was looking forward to filling up my Halloweentown card and earning my commemorative coin, but since there was no shuttle bus to get my card, I couldn't do that.

Here's what we did do though:

Took the "Haunted Hayride"

This is in quotes because it was neither haunted, nor had any hay. We paid $3 to be driven by tractor back through the parking lot we had just walked across to get into the main town square to see a cardboard cutout of a UFO and some sad aliens. Then the driver gave us a story about the "crash site", but he didn't turn the tractor engine off, so none of us could actually hear him. Also, this was in broad daylight. Luckily, we were able to laugh about the absurdity of it all. I won't even tell give you the satisfaction of seeing an empty parking lot. 

Took pictures in the main square

You can see other pictures we took on our last trip, but also on my Instagram. We actually were able to take a photo with Benny's cab. That's not Benny in there, but it was still pretty cool. 

Movie theater featured in both Halloweentown and Twilight


Rode past the Walk To the Underworld and passed

This was a very small fenced in area with a recreation of Stonehenge that you could walk through for $1. There wasn't anything else. No monsters. No people. Just stones in a formation. That you could totally see all of. The "creatures" aren't added until the 11th (which is a weird date, since it's a Wednesday), and then admission is $3. I mean, what? I didn't even take any pictures.


Watched the parade

I guess last weekend was the kick-off weekend for Spirit of Halloweentown, so they hold a parade. I also guess the schedule is a loose interpretation of such, because the parade was set to start at 3pm, and we didn't see anything until almost 4pm. Granted, we were at the end of the route, but the route was not even that long. It was fun and, blessedly, short since I was starving. We actually waited longer to see the parade than the parade lasted. So, we followed it out a few blocks to get dinner.

Dined at the Klondike

St Helens is small. There aren't a ton of options for food, but we'd been here before and liked it, and there wasn't a line like last time either. This restaurant that used to be a hotel has a long and haunted history. They decorate with the old hotel room doors and have a long list of custom and seasonal cocktails. It's definitely worth a seat at the bar at the very least.

There are food carts near City Hall, but they are more snacky than anything else: nachos, chili, soup, cotton candy, caramel corn, pie. At 5pm they have "happy hour". As we were leaving, we saw the few tables they had nearby were now closed off for those that wished to buy beer (in a can) and wine (in those single sealed glasses). It started raining, so we continued to the car.

Visited the Museum of Oddities

For $2, we figured we couldn't really go wrong with this, but it turns out they should have charged more for the hilarity of it. The St Helens Historical Society put this together in the room of an old church and I loved it. The room itself was fantastic, but then they made these great exhibits that they added the most bizarre stories to that were super amusing. 


I especially enjoyed the man who lost his sight and hands in a saw mill accident and had to get his hands replaced with claws, so to make him feel better, his soon-to-be wife had her head replaced with that of an alligator. Their likenesses were made into a one-of-a-kind cake topper for their wedding. The other favorite of mine was the first deer to own his own business, which was a sporting goods shop. He was buried in his favorite suit. Ha! This totally made up for the $3 haunted hayride.


Saw some actual movie memorabilia and filming destinations

This is one of the last remaining set pieces from Halloweentown, and was exhibited in the Museum of Oddities, probably because there was no better place to showcase it and keep it safe at the same time. Look how pretty this stained glass is.

Aside from the above things, we wandered into a few shops, took a nice turn around the downtown area, and admired the harbor. Each shopfront has their own scarecrow out front that they have personalized, which is fun, and there are quite a few photo ops around the square and other places. They had a haunted house. Well, two. One for adults and one for children. We didn't feel like spending the money for admission, considering the quality of scares we'd already endured. 

Despite the disappointment of the schedule snafus, we ended up having a good time. This weekend will have celebrity guests from the Halloweentown movies, a Debbie Reynolds tribute, haunted tours, live shows and readings by a psychic. At only 45 minutes from Portland, it's worth the drive out for a few hours of kitschy fun. Bring cash.

What fun, dumb, or weird things does your town do for Halloween?
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