Quench that Halloween thirstFeature Story Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Americans thirst for change. The Occupy San Diego movement (the scariest thing in decades to powers that be) proves it. But at least for a few days, as the season turns and Halloween approaches, change-thirst becomes blood-thirst. San Diego LGBT Weekly has a few suggestions for quenching yours (if you’ll not mind our use of “blood” as a euphemism for spooky fun).
Real Haunted House
San Diego is America’s most haunted city. The city has the only official state of California haunted house – the Whaley house, so it’s natural this is the place to be Halloween night.
Built in 1857 at 2482 San Diego Ave., the Whaley house was the home of Thomas Whaley a successful merchant, a prominent citizen and, according to Wikipedia, an early settler of San Diego. The home he built was located atop the execution site of an accused boat thief, known as Yankee Jim.
According to the Paranormal Travel Guide, Thomas Whaley rented out part of the house as a county courtroom and records depository. He got $65 each month from the county, but the price Whaley paid was being at the center of “… a power struggle between people in Old Town, where the mansion was located, and the ‘new towners,’ who wanted the county records kept in their section of the growing city.
One day while Thomas was out of town, a gang of new towners broke into his house, terrorized his wife and daughter, and stole all the records. For nearly twenty years Thomas tried to collect damages from the county for his ransacked house, but he died without ever receiving a dime.”
More than 100 years later, Mr. Whaley came “a collectin’.”
Say the publishers of the Paranormal Travel Guide, “… when the county bought the house and started restoration, strange things began to happen. Workmen told of ghosts walking on the second floor, windows that opened by themselves, and alarms which went off for no reason. Visitors to the house have reported seeing the ghosts of Thomas and his wife in the hallways and descending the staircase, as well as the ghosts of his dog, little girl and baby son (who died at 17 months). Several people have reported seeing a man hanging in a doorway in the house. He is thought to be the ghost of Jim Robinson – Yankee Jim, that is, who was caught stealing a boat and sentenced to death by a drunken judge. When he was hung on a gallows on the Whaley property, the noose failed to snap his neck, and he hung flailing in the air for nearly an hour, cursing and screaming, before he was finally strangled to death.”
According to one former docent of the home, which is now a museum, the sound of a creaking gallows can be heard when the house is completely quiet.
This year, the house and museum will be open until midnight Halloween day. Officials there said visitors there can expect to have a “ghoulishly good time.” The house will be lit by antique and historic oil lamps, around which ghost tales will be shared amid the sounds of period music and, perhaps, echoes of screams from years past.
Nightmare on Normal Street
Of course, no San Diego Halloween would be complete without the LGBT community’s contribution to the brew of chilling events. That is of course Nightmare on Normal Street, billed as “Hillcrest’s Halloween block party.” But through the years, Nightmare on Normal has become more than just a Hillcrest thing. Nightmare has become such a San Diego institution that some may forget that the event is put on by the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and proceeds of Nightmare on Normal Street go to support the Center’s programs.
But beware, those who show up on the corner of Normal Street and University Avenue Monday, Oct. 31 will find the place a relative (yes, we’ll say it) ghost town. Rather, hobgoblins, witches and all other revelers should come decked out Oct. 29 from 7-10 p.m.
San Diego LGBT Weekly’s very own Nicole Murray Ramirez will emcee for what organizers call “… the fabulous costume contest.” The grand prize is $1,000. Costume contest registration is limited to the first 66 entries and will close “promptly at 8:30 p.m.,” according to promotional material. Tickets are $12.50 online, and include $5 in drink tickets; $10 at the door with no drink tickets, or $50 for VIP tickets, which include reserved seating and complimentary drink service. Nightmare on Normal Street is a 21 and older event, and ID is required.
Trick or Treat
Not to fret; there’s something in San Diego for everyone. In fact, according to national real estate data firm, Zillow, San Diego County has one of the most trick-or-treater-friendly populations in the country.
Among important “rules of engagement” are these recommended by Halloween Magazine (which, by the way, has a trick-or-treating-safety game at halloweenmagazine.com):
• Young children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult.
• Plan your entire route and make sure your family knows what it is.
• Wear flame retardant costumes.
• Parents should check candy before it is eaten.
• Be very cautious of strangers.
• Accept treats only in the doorway. Never go inside a house.
• Don’t play near lit Jack O’Lanterns.
• Visit only houses where the lights are on.
• Walk, don’t run, only on sidewalks and driveways.
• Cross the street at corners or in a crosswalk.
• Take a mobile phone.
• Keep track of time and limit it in order to avoid accidents and fatigue (an hour and a half to two hours is plenty of time to collect your booty).
• Carry a flashlight.
• Have candy scanned by a hospital (Anderson Medical Center in Pacific Beach will offer digital x-raying of candy).
Be sure to read Allan Spyere’s column for a comprehensive list of places and events where grown-ups can find their own tricks and treats.
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