Friday, October 25, 2013

Alameda Haunt Your House

A mad scientist presides over his demented lab, festive revelers chat around a bonfire in a front yard, a ghost billows in the wind under a giant oak tree, and well dressed skeletons dine on the ghoulish specials of the evening…

Alameda really knows how to celebrate Halloween, and for those of us who are still in love with all things spooky, it feels a bit like being a kid again, walking these haunted streets on the magical night of All Hallows Eve.

One person who has grown up celebrating Halloween in Alameda is Patti Cary, who created Alameda Haunt Your House, a decorating contest and canned food drive that has donated over 3,000 lbs of canned food to the Alameda Food Bank.  Her intention is to continue the legacy of making Alameda the most haunted city in the Bay Area.  I was lucky enough to get an interview with Patti.  I just want to say thank you for helping to make Alameda even more of a wonderful community to live in.  Enjoy!

What do you love most about Alameda?
I was born and raised here in Alameda and to be honest, when I was little, I couldn't wait to move off the island to more exotic lands.  I've been lucky enough to live in London, New Orleans and the LA area but truly, I guess there really is no place like home.

Why do you think Alameda is so good at being spooky?
That's easy.  The architecture and the trees.  We have such a wonderful variety of homes and so many that date back to the 1800s. The Victorian era just lends itself to all things spooky and our gorgeous tree-lined streets really frame and highlight the many styles of interesting homes. 

What fond memories do you have of Halloween as a child?
Oh, my dad was a haunter from way back.  He'd build coffins with pop up vampires and string ghosts on zip lines in front of the house.  He loved getting a rise out of the kids and neighbors.  Growing up, I remember a particular house Paru St. with a witch on the front porch stirring a big caldron shrouded in purple light and fog.  I was hooked!  I looked forward to Halloween like some kids look forward to Christmas or their birthdays and...I still do!

How did you come to create AHYH?
After moving back to Alameda from New Orleans, I really wanted to bring back that magical feeling of the Alameda I knew as a child.  The island is just so perfect for haunting and I wanted to encourage folks to showcase their homes and neighborhoods and make Alameda the most haunted city in the Bay Area.  I enlisted the help of a few friends, the Boo Crew, and we've been holding the contest ever since.  In 2010 we added the canned food drive to the event and that has been another great way of getting folks involved.  Despite some ups and downs, we continue to try to build Alameda - Haunt Your House! as a fun, exciting community event.

How do you think a close and supportive community can change peoples' lives?
It's so important to know your neighbors.  We've met so many great people in town we may have never known if it weren't for the contest.  A simple idea about a Halloween contest has grown and now we are so proud to say the contestants have rallied around and have donated over 3,000 lbs. of canned goods to the Alameda Food Bank.  We have some participants who don't enter the contest but just collect canned goods and that is fantastic!  We're all connected and not just by where we live but how we live.

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