Recently, a colleague said she would love for me to show her around Flaherty because it seemed like a wonderful place judging by my writings about it. I told her that I’d love to, but that what makes it such a wonderful place derives more from the people/community than any particular building I could show her. This idea I tried so hard to put in words was on full display this past Saturday night at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Flaherty.
Not that long ago, a few people started kicking around the idea of a trunk-or-treat event at the church to celebrate the return of Halloween for the children after the holiday was pretty much canceled last year due to the pandemic. With that initial idea, the snow ball began to roll down hill as more and more of the community began to get involved. By the time last Saturday rolled around, St. Martin’s wasn’t having a trunk-or-treat. The idea had bloomed into a full blown Halloweentown.
A small army of volunteers went to work over the past couple weeks, transforming the church campus into a Halloween wonderland for children and adults, too. As Nicole Whelan pointed out, one of the problems with a trunk-or-treat is that you have children still walking around as some people start to pack up and go home. As a result, the group decided to make a walk-through version in which Father Clancy Drive would be shut down to traffic from the gymnasium to the far gate at the end of the cemetery.
Just days before the veil was ready to be pulled back for the Halloween eve day event, however, the rain moved in. It was still there the day before, and it was there much of Saturday morning and early afternoon. Like clockwork, though, the sky parted and the rain subsided just hours before the event started at 6:30. Now, maybe it was just dumb luck like some would like to believe or maybe it was the many prayers that Elaine Medley said were prayed that day on those hallowed grounds that led to the small window of perfect weather that allowed the event to open on time. I’m, personally, going with Medley’s explanation because the alternative is just boring, if not depressing. Not to mention, it just falls terribly short of explaining the magic that took place on those grounds from opening until the rain moved back in right before 9 p.m.
It’s been described many different ways but something out of a Hallmark Movie is by far my favorite. I’m not sure who first referred to the night that way, but once it was uttered, I failed to see it any other way.
Hallmark couldn’t have faked a community Halloween event on stage anymore accurately then what actually took place. Each lamp post was wrapped in corn shocks with orange “Christmas style” lights zigzagging overhead. The two story rectory was decked out from the ground up in halloween decor with a couple dressed as skeleton bride and groom welcoming the community to Halloweentown.
From there, young ghosts and ghouls made their way through a lighted pathway that led past skeletons and witches, along with a haunted pavilion. As seasonal tunes like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and the GhostBusters’ theme song reverberated across the grounds from a centrally located sound system, youngsters made their way back onto Father Clancy Drive where various groups and individuals had claimed spaces to decorate to their choosing and handed out candy in various costume ranging from witches to three little pigs. There was even a group of Flaherty Blue Devil that returned from years past. Then inside the main pavilion, there was a big screen playing halloween movies and various booths for the young trick-or-treaters to enjoy. Hot dogs and other food was handed out for those who sought more substance than their sweet tooth desired, and outside a Star Spooks stand was set up offering up hot cocoa and other treats.
As children danced to the music while others ran around with smiles on their faces, it was evident that Halloween was back in a big kind of way. Standing in the parking lot just before leaving, I turned back around for one last look. All the lights, decorations, music, and costumes, added together with the large community turn out, painted a perfect scene—one straight out of a Hallmark movie, for sure.