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Getting Into the Spirit of Halloween

Halloween has taken on a life of its own in recent years. It is no longer a one-night event where costumes are thrown on and a bag of candy purchased at the last minute.

The modern day Halloween lasts a couple of weeks now, spawning parties, parades, festivals and fairs. Both children and adults spend days working on their costumers in preparation for trick-or-treating or for a big party.

The fact that Halloween fell on a Friday this year spurred even more parties than usual. Throughout Mount Vernon, people geared up for parties by decorating their houses and dressing up.

Even those who didn't have a party got into the decorating act. Brian and Jeffrey Park have been creating a haunted house for years. They have so many scary displays that they bought a second home just to store everything. Their setup is so well known that people come from miles away, and it is so well attended that the police now block off the streets and patrol the area.

While not nearly as elaborate as the Park brothers' display, others are now starting to get in on the act. Once again, Ginger and Bob Voltmann's front yard was something to be seen; this year it was filled with a spooky graveyard setting.

"It's something the whole family can do," said Ginger Voltmann.

The Woodwards, who used to live next door to the Voltmanns, had quite a display of their own in their new house. Orange lights covering the bushes and hung from the rooftop made for a nice display when darkness descended.

ON EMERALD DRIVE, the carved pumpkins by Lynne and Rick White are starting to become legendary in their own right. Fourteen pumpkins placed along their front walk reflected the likes of such familiar characters as Dr. Evil, Harry Potter, Sponge Bob, Little Mermaid, the Headless Horseman and the presidents on Mount Rushmore. There was also Halloween scenes such as Trick or Eek, Tiffany Spider, Wolf and Grave Robbers 3D.

Rick White said that he first learned to carve when he used to help his brother up in Pittsburgh.

"I used to go up to Pittsburgh and spend three days carving; my brother had a bunch of people helping him and ended up with about 50 carved pumpkins. That's where I got the bug."

White said that when he and his wife moved to Waynewood, they decided to start their own tradition. Now their children, Alexa and Austin, are also starting to get into it. This year, Alexa carved Mr. Smile and Austin did a cat.

The Whites spent two nights doing the carving. White said that the most important tools are a carver, a saw and a thumbtack. Yes, a thumbtack to hold the pattern in place. White collects patterns from different places, but was especially excited this year because he made his own pattern of his children.

White said that he repeats the Grave Robbers 3D and the Trick or Eek patterns every year, but the others are new. In the past, he's carved images of George Bush and Al Gore and the firefighters from 9-11.

Lighting the pumpkins is always an issue. Some of the scraped pumpkins need more illumination, so White either uses multiple candles or inserts an electric light. If they're lucky they get to light up the pumpkins two nights before they start to deteriorate. After that, pumpkins are thrown in the trash and patterns are put away for the next year.