It’s been more than 30 years since Leslie and Scott Sheeran started a pumpkin carving tradition known at their home on 18th Ave SW. Now known simply as “The Pumpkin House,” the Sheerans, along with family and friends, display as many as 120 detailed pumpkins in their front yard. Detailed and always interesting and topical, the event also raises between $500 and $1,000 each year for the local Food Bank. The Pumpkin House draws visitors from near and far, peaking with crowds of several thousand on Halloween night.
Hence began a neighborhood tradition that has grown as more ghoulish decor in the South Capitol neighborhood, making it the destination halloween neighborhood.
There’s the Agatha Smith (Elysium) Cemetery at 18th SE and Capitol Way, where a large storyboard with the tale of Olympia’s “first female murder victim, buried here” has delighted generations of youngsters.
Just next door to the cemetery is the Pirate House, pictured at left. No one makes it to the door…the family and friends are outside handing out candy because of the large crowds. At least no one has to walk the plank, other than those two characters.
Neighbors throughout the community have added lots of spooky fun, and families from across the area come decked out to enjoy the fun.
We have also enjoyed the Samba OlyWa “BoneGang” drummers, who most years march around the neighborhood favoring us with music and dance. Porches fill with admirers thrilled to watch and listen as they pass by, and some even join in, dancing on the sidelines.
The Addendum: Hallows’ Eve
In 2020 the a conversation began bubbling on the listserv about whether Halloween would happen that year, and whether we could offer a smaller, safer Halloween for neighborhood children only. And so began the “Teeny Tiny, Neighborhood-only, Doorbell-Free Hallows’ Eve” which happened in 2020 and 2021 on the night before Halloween. This event was organized in a way that caused no one any trouble…if you didn’t want to hand out candy, no need to turn lights out or do anything at all. If you DID want to hand out candy, you needed to be outside, or have some “delivery method” that was quite obvious to those walking through the neighborhood.
We saw wonderful 2nd floor window chutes, scary residents on porches, and various kinds of creative candy delivery methods. Those who did not wish to hand out candy would not be disturbed at all, because kids were told to not go to doors, ring bells, or knock. Neighbors began listing their addresses so families could plan their route, but you didn’t have to be on the list to do it, you just had to…do it!
This 2-hour Hallows’ Eve event proved a huge hit, not just because of the increased safety, but also because it some had missed seeing their neighborhood children but didn’t feel comfortable with the size of our famous Halloween night. People who hadn’t handed out candy for years started again. Littles enjoyed a halloween that felt “right sized” for them. All while keeping our wonderful big Halloween on the actual Halloween night for those who enjoy that. It was win-win!
Is it an idea that will outlast covid, for all the other ways it was fun? Let us know on the listserv this fall whether you want to see it continue.