Halloween spirits are on The Web
October 31, 1996
Web posted at: 1:30 a.m. EST
From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman
(CNN) -- Things have been quiet, too quiet, for too long.
The blink of your digital clock has an ominous glow. Your
lengthening shadow trails behind you, appearing ever earlier
as the chill days grow shorter. And your nerves are at the
breaking edge, as you realize in terror: You have forgotten
how to celebrate a holiday!
Yes, it's true that the last major holiday you hosted a party
for was Independence Day. No, that doesn't mean that you
have to become the laughingstock of your friends for your
less-than-gripping entertainment skills. The World Wide Web
is here, once again, in your time of need.
In this story:
Carving a pumpkin is fun and not as messy as you remember --
just lay several layers of newspaper on your kitchen floor
and check out this web site for ideas that will get your
creative juices flowing.
The site provides elaborate patterns you can trace onto your
pumpkin (these are not your standard grinning gourds), and
lists exactly what tools you will need to complete these
fanciful designs (a kitchen knife and a spoon aren't going to
When I visited, the prominently-featured article highlighted
was entitled "Making your pumpkins last longer." With the
amount of effort you'll be putting into your pumpkin, thanks
to this site, you'll want it to last.
Once you get the hang of the carving techniques illustrated
at this site, you may find that pumpkin-carving occasions
don't come around often enough. Instructions and patterns
for carving watermelons are also available here.
If you are hosting a Halloween bash, this site can help you
plan it, from putting together a menu (complete with blood-
red hands of ice to chill your punch and person-shaped meat
loaf) to selecting a playlist of spooky songs.
The site also links to a wide selection of Halloween-related
web pages, covering All Hallows' Eve subject matter from
ghost stories to costumes to "mystic games" like a virtual
Ouija board and a tarot card reading.
This family-oriented site, which combines magazine format
with Web flexibility to publish new articles every day
instead of once a week or once a month, has unveiled a
special Halloween section. Its regular Family Planet staff
address parents' most pressing questions in this section: can
our children trick-or-treat where we work? What do my kids
want to do at their Halloween party? What costumes can I
make in the next two hours? and What do I do with my kids'
candy when they get home?
The site also reviews books and movies, and gives them kid-
safety ratings. And, it posts contributions from other
actual parents on suggested topics, including -- again --
what to do with all that candy they bring home, and things
you and your children can do instead of trick-or-treating, if
you are so inclined.
One word on the trick-or-treating question: As a child,
adults told me that bad people "often" put razor blades in
apples, or put poison into candy at Halloween. As an adult,
I have seen few trick-or-treaters in my own neighborhood, and
assumed that parents had decided it was too dangerous to let
their children go door-to-door.
While checking your child's candy is still sound advice,
research has found little evidence to substantiate the legend
of the "Halloween Sadist." In fact, a researcher from
California State University at Fresno, trying to prove the
story, studied major newspapers from 1958 to 1988 to find how
often people sabotaged Halloween candy.
For the 30-year period, he found only 78 cases, all of which
turned out to be pranks by children, and two deaths. The
father of one of the children, who died by cyanide poisoning,
was later convicted of the murder of his son. See "Halloween
Poisoning" on the Urban Legends site for more information.
If your children are going out trick-or-treating this
Halloween -- even if they have gone before and even if you
think they know the rules -- it's always safest to remind
them. This game is an easy way to do so.
Developed using information from law and safety enforcement
agencies, children's hospitals and other resources, the quiz
lists a dozen rules of the road, then poses situation
questions to which the child must choose the best answer
provided. If they choose the wrong one, they learn that "the
bogeyman" caught them, and are reminded of the rule they
If you still don't want your kids canvassing the
neighborhood, or they won't be able to because rain is
forecast for your area on October 31, you might enjoy
planning your children's Halloween party this year. As you
might guess from the name, the "Billy Bear's Halloween" site
is primarily for younger children.
The resources available on this site allow you to print out
designs for Halloween invitations, the design for the "Stick
the Wart on the Witch" game, patterns for three different
Halloween mazes, and three pumpkin line drawings that
children can color.
The Monster Manse is by far the most elaborate horror-related
web site I visited, and is practically guaranteed to get
adults in the Halloween mood. This page's creator is also an
amateur horror film producer, and it shows in the site's
layout, including clever artwork and mood music that
automatically downloads and plays ad nauseum as long as you
are on a page.
Among the special features you MUST check out if you go: A
"Monster Trivia" quiz hosted by fictional character Howly
Harry, which gives you a thumbs up or down and an insult or
compliment, depending on whether you answer each question
right. (The quiz is purportedly changed occasionally to
present renewed challenges to the devoted horror fan.)
Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, is an English holiday
commemorating the capture of the country's most notorious
traitor, Guy Fawkes, in 1605. Fawkes is burned in effigy in
towns throughout England year after year, and his capture is
celebrated with massive fireworks displays rivaling those in
the United States for Independence Day (the Fourth of July).
Learn more about the conspiracy and the tradition at this
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