Halloween brings out tricks and treats A tingle of fear, a barrel of fun

November 01, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

Halloween is about the tingle of fear.

Like when the old man on Streeper Street used to chase Lisa Baynes Mirarchi and her friends away from his house with a broom, because he was a mean-spirited somebody who didn't DTC give out candy and kids taunted him for it.

It was one of the thrills of going out into the night on All Hallows' Eve. "It was fun," said Mrs. Mirarchi. "I always loved Halloween."

Little Lisa Baynes grew up and left her Highlandtown Halloweens behind to become the mother of two in a town house development near Rosedale called Daybreak Estates. There, if you don't want to give out candy, you just leave your porch light turned off and nobody bothers you.

Mrs. Mirarchi said that when she was young, kids made their own costumes "from stuff we dug up in each other's houses. We were pirates and witches and ghosts. I remember going to the hardware store to buy cork to burn and smudge on our faces to dress up as bums."

Yesterday -- in a neighborhood costume contest that included a Jack-in-the-Box, Humpty Dumpty, and a robot -- Mrs. Mirarchi's 3-year-old daughter, Maura, masqueraded as a Tootsie Roll made from $6 worth of brown and white felt.

"The trick was making it comfortable to wear," Mrs. Mirarchi said. "At first I thought of using some kind of tube . . .. Then I decided to use felt. I can't sew, so I used a glue gun to put it together."

The only thing close to being scary in Daybreak Estates was when a grown-up walked up to Maura and crooned: "I love Tootsie Rolls. Can I have a bite of you?"

Halloween was everywhere yesterday.

Haunted houses welcomed the faint of heart from Howard County to Towson.

A kid dressed like a priest dribbled a basketball down Eastern Avenue.

Around the corner on Belnord Avenue, 5-year-old Craig Wenger played Robin Hood for the second year in a row.

Front yard stands on Philadelphia Road in Golden Ring had plenty of pumpkins and Indian corn for sale.

And the front window of Hooper's Island Seafood on Fleet Street was crowded with tombstones.

Once, on the Halloween after Rebecca Elizabeth Leamon graduated from college, she and a friend made a pact to jump a graveyard fence before midnight to read Edgar Allan Poe tales by candlelight.

Ms. Leamon, dressed as a vampire in the ticket booth of the Orpheum Cinema in Fells Point, recalled the story yesterday. Inside the theater, viewers watched a German silent film about a bloodthirsty hellhound called "Nosferatu."

"It was a big cemetery in Cambridge [Mass.] called Mount Auburn, and we read 'The Cask of Amontillado' on a concrete bench by a big tomb," she said, her face pale and her eyes dark.

"We wanted to be scared -- that's the point of Halloween. Once you climb over that fence, it's like you're stuck. When we heard voices inside the graveyard, we got scared and went to a party."

As dusk began to fall over a gray afternoon along Thames Street, Fells Point began to fill with spooks in search of spirits, most of them distilled.

"Its the biggest night of the year in Fells Point," said Ann Dix, sitting at the bar in the Whistling Oyster. "Halloween is it."

Behind Ms. Dix, in the Broadway square, a witch sat on a bench and watched people dressed as "morris dancers" bang sticks together and hop around in wooden-soled shoes with bells on their legs.

"It's a big party night in Fells Point, but it ain't like Los Angeles," said the witch, a resident of Armistead Gardens named John Rosier. "I lived out there for five years, and Halloween gets real crazy in Hollywood."

Last night, Mr. Rosier settled for morris dancing, an ancient English custom celebrating the seasons, especially the solstice. Since 1984, clubs from all over the East Coast have gathered in Baltimore every Halloween to keep alive rites believed to bring good luck, fertility, bountiful harvests and good fortune.

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