Halloween ain’t what it used to be.
No longer a mere one-night candy scramble, All Hallows Eve is becoming a major holiday in its own right. More houses decorated, more costumery, more hokey pumpkin adornments and “ugly” sweaters.
When it comes to décor, Halloween rivals Christmas chez Patrick. We have so much of ghostie-things, witchy-dos, black garlands, and purple lights (did I mention the Halloween tree?) that October’s stack of storage bins is as high as December’s.
We’re also Hallow-movie buffs — from “Edward Scissorhands” and “Sleepy Hollow” to Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” and “Halloweentown” (I, II, and III).
So when we learned that Halloweentown is not just a movie set, but actually a place north of Portland, we set off for a goofy family adventure last weekend. Clad as the Addams family, we fit right in.
The little town of St. Helens, Ore., was where the series was filmed. The glow-eyed pumpkin still sits across from the Columbia County Courthouse — the area prominently featured in the films (which looks much bigger than it is).
Each weekend in October, St. Helens hosts Halloweentown-themed activities. “Sophie” — a new mom — lit the pumpkin last Saturday. “Marnie” will do the honors next weekend. “Grandma” Debbie Reynolds (R.I.P.) joined in past years, and Kalabar is still around.
Kid-friendly features include a fairy fest, parade, Harry Potter parody, and magic show. Nights get more adult with a serious haunted house, a gothic dance, and pizza-and-movie marathon (“Halloweentown” and “Twilight,” also partly filmed there) in the old theater/ballroom.
Instead of parking meters, scarecrows and werewolves adorn the sidewalks. We found shops with an array of witches’ capes and tarot card readings.
Did I mention the brewery and butter beer? Not my thing, but the line went out the door.
Yes, it’s small (no downtown coffee shop — a ghoulish gap that sorely needs filling), but there’s enough to pack a Halloween-themed day for October-obsessed nuts like us. Cheesy is fun, and Portland is half an hour south (Powell’s City of Books, we hardly knew ye!).
Word to the wise: If you go, reserve a room — St. Helens has few hotels. The all-in-one ticket package isn’t necessarily a necessity (without kids younger than we are, we were glad to skip Fairy Fest), but movie/pizza night requires reservations. Already the photo ops with the stars are showing “full.”
For more information see Discovercolumbiacounty.com.
Sholeh Patrick, a.k.a. Mrs. Addams, is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email: Sholeh@cdapress.com