By Amanda Cardini, Staff Writer
I’ll be the first to admit that I find no joy whatsoever in being scared. I’ve never understood the fascination with the frightening aspects of Halloween. I was always the kid that called her mom to be picked up from a sleepover early because the kids had decided to watch a scary movie or the only one in my friend group to stay home when everyone else went to a haunted house each October. Even now at 23 years old, I have no shame in leaving situations like these — I know full well that I don’t welcome the feeling of being scared and enjoy even less the fact that scary movies and haunted houses will keep me up at night afterwards.
I’m not a Halloween grinch — there are some parts I love about this time of year, namely the opportunity to dress up in a costume and the change in weather (that is if Phoenix ever cools down). But if you’re a scaredy cat like me, know that there are other ways to enjoy this holiday. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t like to be scared, and my top five favorite ways of celebrating Halloween come without the fear factor.
Horror and gory movies along the lines of Paranormal Activity, Saw or It are simply out of the question for me, but fortunately, there are plenty of Disney-type movies that still induce a little fear (or at least suspense) and won’t come back to haunt you when you try to sleep. Tim Burton’s style is one of whimsical creepy, especially in the animated films the Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. There are also plenty of older classics like Beetlejuice, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and The Addams Family, that are sure to invoke memories of Halloweens past. Disney has its fair share of decent Halloween movies as well such as Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown, which any ’90s kid will still appreciate.
There are several pumpkin patches throughout the Valley where you can select a pumpkin, go on a hayride or get lost in a corn maze. Several Phoenix pumpkin patches also include features like petting zoos, ziplines and fall activities such as apple bobbing. Many of the patches also farm many other types of produce and offer tasty homemade food such as barbecue, fresh corn on the cob, pies and s’mores. A few even host events or discounts on certain days of the week that you can check for online before you go.
Halloween decorations don’t have to be terrifying. There are many cute and subtle ways to decorate without causing fright. Inexpensive decorations range from fake spider webs to the sticky window gels. If you’re feeling a little more creative, Pinterest has thousands of ideas for homemade DIY decor, and some only require common household items like empty milk jugs and egg cartons. Fall candles are another way to introduce the feeling of Halloween to your home with scents that bring candied apples, pumpkin and wood burning fires to mind.
Indulge in Fall Foods
Halloween candy may satisfy your sweet tooth, but there are plenty of other ways to indulge in the holiday spirit with fall foods. Apples, corn, pears, potatoes, and of course, pumpkin and squash are just a few produce items in season at this time of year. Savory comfort food and sweet Halloween treats are perfect for the fall season, and many of the Valley’s restaurants change their menu to incorporate autumn produce if you don’t want to try out a new recipe yourself.
Take Advantage of Fall Events
Phoenix doesn’t get a true autumn with changing leaves and crisp air, but the Valley does celebrate the drop in temperature from 100+ degrees down to the 90s. October and November are popular months for events throughout Phoenix due to the weather finally being bearable enough to enjoy the outdoors. There are many food festivals and Oktoberfests throughout the Valley, as well as the Arizona State Fair, famous for its array of fried and bacon-wrapped foods. The Valley is also home to several Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Marathon runners and music appreciators will find several running events and outdoor concerts and music festivals. Meanwhile, sports fans will find the Arizona Cardinals well into their season, providing plenty of opportunities for tailgating and enjoying the weather from the University of Phoenix stadium.
Despite the new thrillers and horror films that are released each year, celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to be terrifying. There are many ways to get in the spooky spirit by celebrating the playful essence of the holiday. The change in weather, delicious food and whimsical movies are perfect for even the scaredy cats to appreciate.