Saturday, October 24, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Have a Happy -Webless- Halloween!

by Peggy Robin

Well, it's been a bad year in so, so many ways....the very least of which is regarding Halloween house decorating. I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that sales of Halloween house trimmings -- you know, those blow-up ghosts and monsters, the witch's legs that stick out from under the porch, the cauldron that produces a dry-ice fog, the spiders, vampire bats, skeletons, and all the rest -- are considerably down from 2019, when sales were booming. So many consumers are wondering if it's safe to celebrate the holiday at all. 

Why dress up your house in a big way when you actively want to dissuade crowds of kids from gathering at your front door?

Of course, until the pandemic struck, the exact opposite thinking was the rule around this neighborhood. For many years -- generations! -- Cleveland Park was known for its annual Halloween parade/haunted house at the Macomb Street Playground. And there were so many elaborately done-up houses - best-known among them, a house in the heart of the neighborhood whose facade was always completely covered by a massive canvas painted with a goblin's face, sometimes with an open mouth at the entrance. One Halloween it was Harry Potter. Those were the days!

Fortunately for Cleveland Parkers, the Halloween spirit is not entirely absent in 2020. The Rosedale Conservancy -- happy to report -- is hosting its annual Pumpkin Party this weekend -- today and tomorrow. It's too late today, but here's what's happening on Sunday, October 25:  

The Rosedale Conservancy looks forward to seeing you this weekend for several Fall/Halloween activities. All activities will be on Rosedale's grounds (35th/Newark) culminating in the first-ever pumpkin patch and annual pumpkin carving the weekend of Oct. 24/25.  Further details below:   

Pumpkin Patch: Enjoy the first-ever John Eaton Elementary Pumpkin Patch -- right at Rosedale. The school will be selling corn husks and pumpkins of all colors, shapes, and sizes (including plenty of large-faced carving pumpkins). Come dressed in your Halloween costume if you'd like to get your picture taken as part of John Eaton's virtual Halloween parade -- or just to get into the spirit!  Sunday, 11am - 2pm

Pumpkin Carving: This is BYOP (bring your own pumpkin), or instead, just purchase at the patch. Per tradition, Rosedale will provide stencils and carving instruction. However, this year Rosedale asks that you bring your own carving tools if possible, although a limited number will be available on-site. Sunday, 12 - 3pm.  

Scarecrow/Harvest People: You are the artist! Create a scarecrow/harvest person to be displayed on Rosedale's fence bordering Newark Street. Prizes awarded for Best Overall, Most Colorful, and Most Unusual. Creations to be installed the week of Oct. 18-23, with judging/prizes on Sunday, Oct. 25. For further details/entry, please visit  

**All activities will adhere to safety protocols with 6 feet of physical distance. Masks required. Please leave furry friends at home.**
[See Listserv message  #165385  for the announcement from the Rosedale Conservancy]  

There is one up-side, as I see it, to the reduced scale of the Halloween festivities, and here it is: Not so much fake cob-webbery in the bushes. That's a small victory for small birds that take shelter in the shrubbery or even small mammals that go foraging for food. 

Even when Halloween is back on in full force (hope that's next year!), I'd like to see this particular form of Halloween decoration die out. Why?

  • It's UGLY! Not the least bit scary -- just gross.
  • That polyester-mesh or cotton gauze webbing doesn't look anything like real cobwebs. It doesn't look like anything found in nature, just some cheap thready crap pulled out of a package. A real spider wouldn't be caught dead in it!
  • After a rain, it's even worse. It turns into a soggy, disgusting mess. 
  • It's a big chore to remove it all -- and it's no wonder you still see remnants of it hanging onto branches well past November 1.
  • Environmentally, it's a disaster. It's not just the hazard to small creatures like hummingbirds and bees, but it can be bad for larger wildlife too. Just look at this poor owl, trapped, tangled up, nearly killed by cobwebbing -- but mercifully freed by wildlife rescuers: For more about the hazards to all kinds of wildlife, read this:

So decorate your hearts out, Halloween householders! Just make it a web-less work of art!


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

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