Most people have seen the Disney Channel movie “Halloweentown,” but few of them know it was filmed in St. Helens, Ore. Even fewer people know every October St. Helens transforms into “Halloweentown” again.
This month-long festival began with the lighting of the pumpkin in town square on the first weekend in October. This year it was hosted by none other than the original Marnie Piper, actress Kimberly J. Brown. All month long this town is filled with spooky events for all ages.
If you go in expecting a real recreation of the Halloweentown from your childhood expect to be disappointed. While everything I read online prior to my visit made this place sound absolutely amazing and spectacular, what I found instead was one small area of miniscule decorations, a couple dollar events you could partake in, and three different antique shops praying children wouldn’t break anything.
The entire town square was a dedicated photo op, but if you want your picture taken with the pumpkin be prepared to wait in line for an hour. It also featured the psychic cab (which I will admit was pretty awesome), a school bus cut out, and a few other non-related picture areas. The shops surrounding town square also joined in by decorating their main windows and the two hair salons selling “Halloweentown” themed merchandise.
My niece’s favorite part about the festival was the playground off to the right of all the festivities and the headless hayride, so I supposed children can still enjoy this great event but let my trip serve as warning to others. Do not go unless you are sure there is something interesting on the schedule for that day, otherwise you’ll end up sitting on a tractor ride looking at halloween masks duct taped to poles.
Despite all my whining and moaning I still recommend going to visit St. Helen’s if you get the chance. This little event has a lot to offer for children and I expect a lot to come from it in a few years. It’s just starting to pick up steam and does have quite a few days where it would be well worth the traffic to go. Coming up on October 29th is a meet and greet with Xander and Anya from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Halloween is supposed to feature a trick or treat event through all of the haunted store fronts. If you do make it up there make sure you check out the haunted house. The children’s tour was enough to freak me out and all the actors did was smile, wave, and give high fives. They also offer ghost tours but they sell out quickly so it’s best to buy your tickets ahead of time.
It may not be the Halloweentown that you remember but this little festival has a lot to offer. With the ever-increasing tourist flow I expect this festival to get bigger and better each year. At the very least you’ll get to see the occasional dedicated dad running around in tights in the middle of fall, which is enough to make up for any of the subpar events.
Column by Elizabeth Holmes