Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Family's Annual Halloween Hayride

I'm excited to visit family this weekend for the 4th Annual Halloween Hayride hosted by my my mom's side of the family. It's a great time and my boys are always thrilled to attend. In the crazy way of the Army, my husband has never been able to attend. Two of the past three years, he was in Iraq, and the other was spent at NTC. So I'm really excited to share this fun event with him this year, too!

It seems that Halloween is a little taboo in some circles, but we enjoy the holiday for its fun ... costumes and candy; what's not to love? Because my parents live in Texas, I am able to attend and participate in many family events that would not otherwise be possible. One of these is my mom's annual Halloween Hayride and Cookout.

My mother and stepfather live in a wooded area in north Texas. They have created a trail through the woods in the backyard, just big enough for their John Deere "Gator" to get through. For this event, my family gathers to decorate the trail ... with each section of the trail having a different theme: Bat Brigade, Skeleton Scream Zone, Witches' Coven, Psychadelic Pumpkin Patch, Grey Ghost Sunken Pirate Ship, Dead-End Graveyard, Ghost Gathering, Spider Sanctuary, Tarantula Turn, and Scarecrow Crossing. We spend the day together preparing for the party and don simple costumes for our guests' arrival.

Guests have their photo taken with a Polaroid instant camera as they arrive; then are guided to the campfire for dinner. After roasting hot dogs over the campfire, the kids take a walk through the trail, where parent volunteers wait with "Trick or Treat" candy and toys. Then the hayrides begin! A little hay in the Gator and attached trailor make a great ride.

While small groups go through the trail in the Gator (with flashlights to see all the spooky sights), those waiting play in a borrowed bounce house and enjoy several craft stations including temporary tattoos, photo magnets (using Polaroid photos taken at the Photo Station), and scary stickers. They can also hunt for a pumpkin in our haystack pumpkin patch and make a fun snack to take home (this varies but, in the past, has included a "Witches' Gorp" trail mix and a spooky 'hand' made from disposable gloves and popcorn).

After all the kids have been on a hayride, it's time for the pinatas. We have two pinatas and divide the kids by age so younger kids aren't overpowered by their older siblings and friends. At this point, we usually head back to the campfire to visit and relax!

To see the trail (from 2008) narrated by my eight-year-old, watch here:

And Part II:

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