Noe Valley Voice October 2009

Throngs of trick-or-treaters, like these kids from Adda Clevenger School, are expected on 24th Street from morning till night on Oct. 31. That’s because Noe Valley’s the place to see and be seen on Halloween. Photo by Pamela Gerard

Haunted Happenings Around Noe Valley

By Olivia Boler

No matter what the holiday, Noe Valley is known as a playland for kids and dogs. But on Halloween, that reputation is magnified to the nth degree, when hundreds--maybe thousands--of masked creatures can be seen scampering down the sidewalks bearing buckets of treats.

If you're like most Noe Valley parents, you are probably already under the spell of your little Dracula or Good Witch Glinda. Still, it might help to know the best neighborhood spots to celebrate the festivities. Here are a few highlights of All Hallows' Eve, Noe Valley­style.

Treats on 24th Street

Generous spirits all, the Noe Valley merchants along 24th Street will be handing out candy beginning on Friday, Oct. 30, when the students from St. Philip's School march down the hill, clothed in costumes from spooky to adorable. The next day, on Halloween itself, 24th Street (and Church and Castro streets) will again be filled with spider webs and Snickers, as the stores entice trick-or-treaters from all over the city, starting at 4 or 5 p.m.

The Ark, Just for Fun, and Small Frys are among the dozens of shops on 24th that delight in filling children's bags on Halloween. Many owners and employees also have fun with their costumes. "I always get dressed up, and so do the girls who work here," says Heather Bruchs, owner of Urban Nest, on 24th near Sanchez Street. Her go-to costume? "A hot pink wig that's a foot and a half high and a hot pink dress, but I might change it up this year." Urban Nest expects to hand out a ton of chocolate and other "sweet chewy things. We go through about 10 gigantic bags," Bruchs says.

Gwen Sanderson of Video Wave says she and her staff will dress in costume and hand out candy, too, as will other Castro Street stores like Cover to Cover and Peekabootique. As a longtime member and past president of the Noe Valley Merchants Association, Sanderson knows that children make a beeline for "Downtown Noe Valley." "Noe Valley is known as a safe place for families to visit on Halloween, and we get visitors from other neighborhoods, too," says Sanderson.

Free Pet Portraits

If your dog or cat insists on wearing a costume this year, stop by the Noe Valley Pet Company on the corner of Church Street and Cesar Chavez for a free Halloween pet portrait. On Oct. 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pet Poses Photography will be snapping photos in honor of its fifth anniversary. No appointment is necessary, and you can call 846-9983 for more information, or check out the Pet Poses website at

Tales of Hoffman

Marilyn Lucas, the "Haunted House Lady," along with many of her neighbors along Hoffman Avenue between 24th and Alvarado streets, will welcome trick-or-treaters from 5 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night. "Look for the haunted car parked in front," she says.

The bewitching inventor of the fun and safe Halloween, Lucas brings a "lifetime of Halloween experience" to her ghoulish activities. Each year, her creepy cottage in the 300 block of Hoffman has a new theme. This year, it will be transformed into Ratworld, featuring her mechanical rat Ratty. Says Lucas, "The little ones love it when he chases them."

If you're worried that your tyke might get too scared, Lucas assures the Voice there are frights in her haunted house that are "rated G. But when the older kids start to say, 'Oh, that's so phony,' or, 'That's not scary,' I kick it up a notch!"

What's up a notch?

"A walk through the gutters...," Lucas whispers, "where the skeleton of a..." (Her words were too horrible to repeat.)

As for what her neighbors are planning, Lucas says be prepared for surprises. "It gets really outrageous here," she says, noting that two of her neighbors (phantoms, no doubt) have designed sets for operas.

Lucas says the Hoffman crew will give away 200 treat bags, and there will even be little books or toys, for kids whose parents prefer they not have sugar.

Frightening Fair Oaks Street

If your intrepid trick-or-treaters cross Dolores Street to the picturesque Fair Oaks Street, they'll be sweetly rewarded.

Sherri Maurin, treasurer of Fair Oaks Neighbors, says, "We do an extraordinary Halloween celebration on Fair Oaks. We close the street [from 21st to 27th streets] in the evening, and hire older students from Jamestown Community Center, which we have supported for more than 20 years, to monitor the crossings and keep everything safe. Many homes are fully decorated, and we give out hundreds and hundreds of pieces of candy. I stopped counting at 1,500 pieces last year."

According to Fair Oaks Neighbors chair Mary Louise Beecroft, there will also be a haunted house which ghost-hunters can tour for a small fee. Festivities on Fair Oaks Street start around 5:30 p.m.

So dust off your witch's hat or Chewbacca mask and get out there with your little mermaid or pirate, Noe Valley. It's your night to cackle.

A Fun and Safe Halloween

By Marilyn Lucas, "The Haunted House Lady"

Here in Noe Valley

A long time ago

Halloween was kinda fun

But the day went really slow

All day we sat at school

Waiting to get dressed

We were all so monstrous

In our Halloween best

We lined up by classes

And paraded all around

But as soon as school was over

We were homeward bound

We had to eat dinner

And do our homework

It's fun to get ready

But it's still a lot of work

Candies in the bowl

Witches in the window

Lights on the porch

Goblins in the kitchen

Children are begging

Isn't it time to go?

As soon as it's dark

Out the door we go

We must only Trick or Treat

At houses we know

Always checking our candy

With our families at home

This is the Halloween season

Have Fun

Be Safe

And always use good reason!