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Visiting Halloweentown!

Sometime over the summer, I saw a video on Facebook about a little town in Oregon where it’s Halloween all year long. Halloween? OMG YES, I LOVE HALLOWEEN! You’re not the only one dressing up for once, so it really doesn’t feel awkward to let your geek shine! Especially now that “sexy” halloween costumes aren’t the only “cool” option. I mean, as if nerdy costumes were ever less than cool, but I digress. History has been hard to us nerds.

Anyways! So, I saw a video for this Halloweentown that made it look really, really cool, and I thought, hey, I have to go!  Guess what? I did! 😀 Here is my report. 

First off, did you know that this isn’t a Halloween thing, as much as it is a movie set thing?? I had never even heard of the Halloweentown movie until a week before I went, much less that there was an entire series of movies that I guess kids my age grew up with! I was more of an It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Worst Witch kid. Side note: holy cow, why is that movie so expensive now?! Maybe because it’s awesome, but still…

So, in order to get myself into the mood, I watched Halloweentown the night before. It was cute, but it’ll still never mean to me what it means to people that grew up watching it.

Here’s me and Joanne (my traveling companion — she and my cousin used to be an item, but she’s too cool for him now) at the “famous” gates! We let our Ravenclaw banner fly high all weekend!

So, we drove from western Washington for about two hours to get to St. Helens, where all of the festivities take place. From the video, which I had bookmarked and is no longer available(!), it looked like this place would be huge and chock-full of Halloween everywhere we looked. Yay! There were events listed including coin hunts and rides in hearses, and because we went on a weekend in October, some of the movie cast would even be there taking photos (for a price)! It sounded really neat, and we planned to stay the night in the closest drivable town, which was 40 minutes away. There were only a few hotels in town and they were all booked up, boo.

So, here’s where I want to mention something… St. Helens is a small town on the bank of the Columbia River. Right across from St. Helens, on the opposite bank of the river, is a town called Kalama. You can stand on the riverbank in St. Helens and look at Kalama on the other side. But there is no bridge. Nada. Nothing! So if you want to drive to that town that you can see happening over yonder, you have to either drive all the way up to Longview,  or all the way down to Portland, and then back. So it’s an hour’s DRIVE to cross the river, and you have to go through other cities to do it. WTF.

I don’t understand this at all. Who planned these cities?!?! I just had to say something because it still boggles my mind!

Alright, whew! Let’s look at some cute photos to feel better. 🙂

There was a band performing in Town Square, the center of all activity Halloweentown.

Here’s the taxi from the movie.

And this big steel pumpkin. It didn’t get crowded until night, but it was still hard to get a shot without people all over the place. I didn’t feel like waiting around, so this was the best that I could do.

There was one huge parking lot, and this guy was there to welcome us in… Looks like he’d been waiting for quite a while!

City Hall was at the front of the Town Square, and in the movie.

This woman is apparently the ideal resident.

Someone had a drone, and I thought it made for a cool shot.

Looking at Mt. Hood in the distance! I’d love to go hiking there in the spring!

Well… to be honest, there wasnt’ actually much to do. There were a few food trucks next to town hall selling noms and running charity drives, a haunted house around the corner, a street full of consignment/used goods shops, and a hair salon selling t-shirts and mugs of the event. During the day, there was also a shuttle to take you uptown where you could do a scavenger hunt and win a commemorative coin. It took Joanne and I over an hour to figure out where the shuttle came, even though you could walk the entire downtown area in 5 minutes, because it wasnt’ on any map and none of the shopkeepers or staff that we asked knew where it came to pick up people!

Organization points: 0

We did find it, though, around the corner from all of the fuss, and boarded to do the scavenger hunt. I wasn’t really expecting anything, and it basically was a piece of paper asking us to go into 10 of 15 or so listed shops on the street and find a plaque with numbers on it. If we collected ten numbers and then took them to a certain gas station on the way out of town, we’d receive our coin.

Alright, well it wasn’t super imaginative, but I get what they were going for. We did get to see some cute local shops (and I saw my second pot store in a town that takes 1-2 minutes to drive through… I’m not sure I could ever live in Oregon, as I despise any kind of smoking). I also found, of all things, local vegan caramel, so I bought it fully aware that I would try not to eat the entire bag, but would probably fail (I finished them all before I went to bed). It was delicious, though! Soft and chewy and so, so buttery….. yum!

Well, after the scavenger hunt, we decided to get the car and drive around a little bit because we had run out of things to do and, guess what? According to a map that we picked up in town, apparently the Twilight series was also filmed there, and all of the locations were mapped! Forget Halloweentown (sorry!), I am a sucker for Edward and Bella’s tale of fated love. I’ve visited Forks and La Push, the real towns that the books are set in, but never the actual movie filming locations. This sort of made my weekend! There were also some old cemetaries marked on the map as places to visit. Both of those things will be in my next posts!

After having a bit of an adventure, we returned to the town square to check out the nightly festivities. I think, honestly, that just coming at night to St. Helens would have been enough, because when we returned to Town Square it was starting to get packed. Apparently, at night is when the real town comes alive! Although there still wasn’t a lot to do, the atmosphere was really eerie and the throngs were thick enough that we had trouble getting through. There was a pumpkin-lighting ceremony at 7:30, but it started really late, so we abandoned it to go to the adults-only haunted house. I’m on a perpetual quest to find a haunted house that is actually scary, and this one turns adults-only after 7pm, so I was hoping for something great!

Here’s the coin that we got for our scavenger hunt. It was plastic, not metal as I’d been hoping for, but it had been a nice afternoon looking in shops that we otherwise would have probably passed by.

Jack was hanging out. You can see how thick the crowd was after dark!

These girls had on mermaid-sparkle witch hats. I approve! I wonder whether they attended Ilvermorny.

I had to have one of these necklaces. Can’t wait to rock them on halloween! I wore it into the haunted house, which was… well, it was very well done. It was probably the best put-together haunted house that I’ve ever visited in America, but I wasn’t scared at all. So, in terms of usual haunted houses, it gets an A+ rating! But on the honestly-scared-o-meter, it doesn’t register at all. This is probably what most people want, so give it a go when you visit, though! I just have really, really high expectations!

Oh, and we did get a photo with Marnie’s actress. She was a real sweetie! Sure, I had just watched Halloweentown for the first time the night before, but why not!

So that’s our little visit to Halloweentown!

Final Verdict:

If you’re nearby and a fan of Halloween, it’s definitely worth a stop! It’s only a half-hour’s drive from Portland, so it’s easy to take a little nip up and check out the festivities! It’s definitely kid-appropriate, and probably actually the most fun for the little ones. If you’re a fan of the movies, this place should definitely be on your bucketlist! Don’t plan for a whole day, though. It’s mostly a nighttime thing.

See you tomorrow to share my photos from Bella’s!

(1,125 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.

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