Noe Valley Voice October 2003

Gettin' Witchy on Halloween

By Laura McHale Holland

"When I was 3 years old, I went to dance classes with Miss Jean Anderson from the Anderson Sisters' School of Dancing on Sixth Avenue. She told me that I could be anything I wanted to be on Halloween, and I have been ever since," says Marilyn Anne Lucas, who is affectionately known around the neighborhood as the Haunted House Lady.

This is the 24th year that Lucas and her helpers have gathered their costumes and props to create a haunted house for the spine-tingling amusement of local youngsters. Lucas' shenanigans have proven to be so contagious that her haunted house has morphed over the years into Hoffman, the Haunted Street.

From 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, neighbors on Hoffman Avenue from Alvarado to 25th Street will have treats and tricks aplenty for the approximately 350 little superheroes, ghosts, dragons, and ballerinas they expect will converge upon them. Lore also has it that a rare species, the Noe Valley Native Wolf, will be digging for surprises around a tombstone, which may or may not be singing. And a fortune-teller will be on hand to gaze into the spirit world.

"I have second generations bringing their children to the house now, young parents with babies who came here when they were small, and it's really sweet," observes Lucas. "Many people did wonderful things like this in the city when I was a child, and I'm just trying to give back to the community and pass on the responsibility to the next generation."

Hayride Gets the Gremlins Rolling

Our neighborhood merchants embrace Halloween whimsy with enthusiasm, welcoming children to their stores, offering them candy and trinkets throughout the day and early evening. But their generosity actually begins earlier in the month, with the annual free hayride sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. Slated for Saturday, Oct. 18, the event will be highlighted by a horse-drawn wagon circling "downtown" Noe Valley from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"The ride begins at Walgreen's on Castro. It turns right on 24th Street and goes down to Church. Then it comes back up Jersey to Walgreen's," says Carol Yenne, the association's president. "I'd say half of our passengers are adults who enjoy it as much as the kids, with the horse clip-clopping down the street. And for those concerned about animal welfare, the organization that we hire for the hayride is from Sonoma County, and they treat their horses very well. Most of the time the animals are munching on lush country grass, and they're brought down every so often to do a nice hayride for children, something that they're well trained to do, and something many city children don't get to experience," Yenne adds.

Pumpkins to Jack-o'-Lanterns

Another generous neighbor, Bethany United Methodist Church at 1268 Sanchez Street, is planning a pumpkin-carving for families with children ages 4 and up on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m.

"We're inviting the community in order to get to know each other and let Noe Valley know we have a presence in the community. We sponsor great family events and have a wonderful church family," says spokesperson Shannon Horton.

The event is free. But costumes are not recommended, because after all, pumpkin pulp is kind of messy. Call Amy Jewel at 647-8393 to reserve your gourd.

A Spellbinding Concert

Also on Oct. 25, Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church at 455 Fair Oaks Street will present "Spirits, Spells & Siren Songs II--The Witches Ride Again!" It is a program of songs and opera scenes that organizers promise will be "magical, mystical, and downright spooky."

Featured singers soprano Elfrieda Langemann and mezzo-sopranos Katherine McKee and Heidi Waterman will be accompanied by pianist Marcie Stapp as they conjure scenes from such musical gems as Hansel and Gretel, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

"We did a similar concert in October of 2000 and had a wonderful audience response. This is the first fall that all three of us have been able to fit it into our schedules again," notes McKee, who is Holy Innocents' music director. "We are all current or former members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, and there is so much magic and sorcery in opera stories, we knew we could put a program together of women's voices that would be spectacular for Halloween."

Though some of the singing will be in foreign languages, narrator Shelley Johnson will set the scene for each selection, so the material is appropriate for ages 8 and up. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume. Suggested donation is $15; those under 18 get in free. The shivers begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 584-6456.

Abundant Inspiration

Need help creating a Halloween alter ego? The One Stop Party Shop at the corner of 28th and Church streets is chock full of deliciously wicked Halloween accoutrements.

"This will be our 16th Halloween, and it's our biggest day of the year. We've got everything--all sorts of children's costumes, great adult costumes from France, beautiful masks from Venice, fantastic wigs, black hooded robes, great accessories. Everything you'll find at a big store, except we're just a little neighborhood store," says proprietor Marty Van Dervort.

On Halloween night, Van Dervort and her ghouls will don masks and devil's ears and pass out candy by their cauldron, which will be frothing with dry ice. If you hear the words "Double, double toil and trouble...," don't say you weren't warned.

Queenly Fundraising

Starting at 6 p.m. on Halloween night, the first annual HallowQueen Drag Contest will begin at the Castro Theater at 429 Castro Street. Co-produced by retailer Good Vibrations and film production company KW Productions, the event will feature food and drink, audience-participation games, and a drag contest where hopeful entrants will vie for the title of HallowQueen 2003.

This is a fundraiser for completion of a documentary film, Two Queens, about "sexpositive" activist Carol Queen and her born-again Christian brother John Queen. A sneak preview of the film will also be part of the evening's entertainment. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained online at

A Quiet Alternative

For those who favor puttering serenely, Terra Mia Decorative Art Studio at 1314 Castro Street may offer a holiday haven. Store proprietor Christine Simmons says she has stocked up on pumpkin figurines, for her Noe Valley customers' painting pleasure. Or if you're the type of artist who plans ahead, you can decorate turkey napkin rings, menorahs, Christmas ornaments, and other holiday-themed bisqueware. (Bisqueware is molded ceramic pottery that has been fired once and is ready to be painted and glazed.)

"We have one woman who does over 75 Christmas bulbs each year for all of her friends and family," notes Simmons.

But get this. If you want to make an orange-and-black bowl for your Halloween candy, but can't pull yourself away from your computer, go to, and click the Online Painter link. There you'll be able to paint pottery electronically. When you're done, the store will fire up the bowl for you. You'll have to pick up your finished piece in person, though. Maybe you'll meet some little Sponge Bobs along the way. Be sure to offer them a treat. h