Discover more from Sebastopol Times
Roundup: Halloween Spirit
"The farther we've gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we've come to need Halloween." Paula Curran
So Much Fun It’s Scary
The long-time vacant haunt of Long’s/CVS is enjoying a short-term occupant this fall. Spirit Halloween opened for its first year in Sebastopol. Jessica, the store manager, said that business was good. “It’s not chaotic like some of the other stores,” she said. They still have plenty of inventory. “The store in Santa Rosa is wiped out,” she said.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Spirit Halloween began in San Francisco and now has 1,500 pop-up stores nationwide. Its parent company is Spencer’s Gifts. Jessica worked in the San Francisco store but she said San Francisco no longer has a store. The chain’s tagline is “So much fun it’s scary.
Sebastopol Times is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
“People who come in here are happy that they don’t have to drive to another store location,” Jessica said. Barbie (and Ken), Scream and Bluey, an Australian animated character, are the most popular costumes, according to two of store clerks, Rylie and Gothika. In addition, the store carries a lot of Halloween decor. Jessica mentioned that pet costumes for Halloween have become popular.
Each year, there’s an animatronic set featured in the store, and this year’s is Spirit Hallows Cemetery set. Each store has the same special set, said Jessica, and it will be sold to a customer when the store closes.
At checkout, customers are invited to donate to the Spirit of Children Foundation. 100% of all donations in this area go to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Rylie said that the Sebastopol store has donated the most money in the Sonoma district. She added that Spencer’s Gifts matches the donations.
On the day after Halloween, everything in the store is discounted at 25% and the following day, the discount is 50% — everything must go. In the Roman Catholic calendar, All Hallows Eve is followed by All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2), and Day of the Dead is celebrated on those days in Mexico.
The Great Pumpkin
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote in his newsletter recently that “Halloween in the new Christmas,” commenting on its growing popularity and commercial appeal. Charles Schulz must have anticipated that shift when he introduced the Great Pumpkin in 1959, giving Halloween its own mythic character. In that original “Peanuts” strip, Linus writes to the Great Pumpkin as he would Santa Claus to bring a bag of toys for children. The animated TV special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” debuted in 1966 (now on Apple TV.) Says Linus to Charlie Brown:
“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He's gotta pick this one. He's got to. I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."
After waiting most of the night in the pumpkin patch, Linus and Charlies Brown are disappointed. Nonetheless, Linus remains a true believer and he says that the Great Pumpkin will come next year.
SCCC Masquerade Party cancelled but Author Talk upcoming
Like Charlie Brown, some people might have been disappointed that the Halloween Masquerade Party scheduled for Saturday, October 28th at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center was cancelled. I asked SCCC Director Mark Saulnier about it. He replied: “Overall interest was low according to early October ticket sales so we decided to retarget next year with a possible collaboration with the Senior Center and Arts Center.”
Mark would like readers to know about the upcoming Author Talk between former KQED radio host Michael Krasny and Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Dave Barry, Sunday November 5 in the Main Hall at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. General admission for the event is $35 with doors open at 5pm and the Author Talk from 5:45 to 7pm. A VIP Experience is available, which starts at 4pm at the Youth Annex and includes VIP seating and a signed copy of a book by Dave Barry.
For two decades, Dave Barry wrote a syndicated newspaper column that was published in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He also has written more than a dozen New York Times bestselling novels. His most recent novel, Swamp Story, came out in May. Barry was interviewed by Dan Taylor in the Press Democrat: “Dave Barry to talk about new novel, weirdness, politics with Michael Krasny in Sebastopol.”
The Treat Map
Nextdoor has a “treat map” so that you can “explore trick-or-treating hotspots nearby.” There are only five homes listed in Sebastopol. I think every kid already has a detailed treat map in their head from the previous year.
Most everybody knows that Florence Avenue is the trick-or-treating “hot-spot” in Sebastopol. However, its residents would appreciate donations of candy to hand out. One person said on Nextdoor: “Last year we handed out 2850 pieces of candy! Thanks to donations we were able to stay open until 9 PM. Any candy donations are really appreciated!” There doesn’t seem to be any organized way to donate candy but this could be its own day-before Halloween tradition — go knock on the doors of Florence Avenue residents and give them a big bag of candy. Maybe they’ll think the Great Pumpkin finally came.
Not Fun It’s Scary
Jared Huffman, Congressman for California’s 2nd District, wrote the following in his newsletter this week about the new Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
As we try to get Congress back to work, many of my constituents are rightfully interested in knowing more about Speaker Johnson, a little-known member of Congress who now not only leads the House of Representatives but is second in line to the Presidency. I know Speaker Johnson to be smart and affable, and I certainly hope he will be a better leader than his predecessor Kevin McCarthy. But I must also candidly share my concerns about what his sudden ascendancy to the Speakership could mean for our country.
Speaker Johnson is an avid Christian Nationalist with little experience in leading, but a long track record of MAGA extremism. For those who care about governing and democracy, and certainly anyone who values the secular character of our government, it’s important to understand that the new Speaker – and the House Republican conference that chose him as their standard-bearer – reflects the most extreme political agenda we’ve ever seen from a majority party in Congress.
Politically, Johnson is the polar opposite of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Linus also said: “There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."
Ray Chin was appointed Sebastopol’s Pickleball ambassador this week, according to Kathy Kerst, the North Bay Ambassador for Pickleball (see “Let’s Play Pickleball”). Earlier this summer, Kathy had hoped to find someone to serve as an ambassador and promote Pickleball in our town. Ray has stepped up to help organize players and find more places to play. You can reach Ray by email at email@example.com.