Jackson County Times

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

What a Halloween!

Jackson County was replete with festivals, haunted houses, and events on this year’s Halloween night.

By Sid Riley

This year there seemed to be more organizations, churches, and communities engaging in recognition of the Halloween holiday. In addition to the normal goblins, angels, and spidermen ringing doorbells for treats, the city streets, church parking lots, state parks, and community lodges were full of weirdly dressed citizens enjoying themselves.

The ancient festivals which developed into the Halloween observance we have today originated before the birth of Christ, in both the Celt society which occupied Ireland and parts of Europe, and the Roman society. Both cultures developed a festival period around the end of October, which recognized the conclusion of the harvest period, and also honored their ancestors. The Celts dressed in animal skins with heads draped over their body. They felt that at these occasions fortunes could be accurately told.

The Romans also celebrated two festivals at this time of year. They had the Feralia which honored the dead, and the honoring of the Goddess, Ponoma who was symbolized by fruit, normally the apple. It is believed that this was the origin of bobbing for apples during Halloween.

As Christianity spread across Europe after the death of Christ, around 800 AD Pope Boniface created a holiday which was intended to combine the Celtic and Roman festivals into a more religious oriented event. He proclaimed the day as “All Saints Day”, which was referred to as “All Hallows”, in the English of the period. This later evolved into Halloween.

Locally, in Jackson County almost every community had festivals and fun events in full swing on a beautiful, harvest moon, fall evening. These included:

Marianna Halloween Events-

First Baptist “Hallow Him” Festival:

The membership of the First Baptist Church turned out in large numbers for their fall festival which was designed to give the Halloween holiday a religious overtone. Clinton street, the church parking lots, and the tennis courts were full of games and fun things to do.

Evangel Worship Center Fall Festival:

This event had things popping at the Citizens Lodge Park arount 8:00 PM, as a huge crowd assembled to enjoy church music, games and a crowd thrilling fireworks display.

Harmony Lodge Annual Haunted House:

In support of Masonic youth programs, the local Harmony Lodge had an exciting “haunted house” in full operation on Jefferson Street in downtown Marianna.

Caverns Park Annual Festival:

With the assistance of “Friends of the Park” the Caverns State Park staff opened the gates for their annual fall event. The theme was historical, with Indian lore, civil war living history re-enactors, and Halloween oriented cave tours for the crowd. It was rumored that “Big Foot” was roaming the woods, and there were several sightings of the beast.

Sneads Halloween Events “Safe Halloween Open House:

This event was sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 241. Their lodge building was a stopping spot for the trick or treat groups as they provided refreshments and treat bags.

Malone Halloween Events –

“Friendship Baptist Church Open House and Harvest Festival”:

Friendship Baptist sponsored their third Annual Harvest Festival event in downtown Malone in front of City Hall. There were many games, live music, and a festival atmosphere as many Malonians turned out for the event.

The best part of this approach to celebrating Halloween is that it provides an evening of entertainment and good clean, safe fun for hundreds of kids.

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