A Hemet pumpkin field sets the scene for October and Halloween. Photo by JP Crumrine
A Hemet pumpkin field sets the scene for October and Halloween. Photo by JP Crumrine

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!’”
-- Dexter Kozen

In the small village of Idyllwild, Halloween occupies a large place in the yearly calendar. Celebrations bring young and old, two-footed and four-footed residents together in a festive family oriented holiday. Some of the celebrations are unscripted with a loose and zany impromptu feel, such as the parade down North Circle. Costumed adults, children, dogs and cats dance, prance and paw down North Circle beginning at 4:15 p.m.

This year, with Halloween falling on Saturday, there will be no curfews of work or school to interfere with children seeking sweets or adults attending ghoulish gatherings or rousing revels.

Also, for the first time this year the Great Pumpkin Carnival, the downtown Halloween party for local children of all ages, will be coordinated by the Idyllwild Community Center. It follows the parade and will be held at an expanded location, encompassing a three-street horseshoe surrounding the town square, according to event manager Chris Singer. It will run from 5 to 8 p.m.

For the first time there will be food booths at the Carnival - hot dogs by the Idyllwild Rotary, Pizza from Village Market, popcorn by the Idyllwild Actors Theatre, baked goods from Bake & Brew and coffee and hot chocolate from Higher Grounds.

And just when you thought dancing had departed with the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series, it’s back. Singer said there will be a dance floor at the Carnival with Billy Sheppard serving as DJ. The Art Alliance of Idyllwild is participating in the carnival this year, with a booth where local artists will provide simple hand and face painting for kids.

“We’ll also have costume contests for both pets and people and an egg smash booth, where folks can aim raw eggs at Idyllwild personalities,” added Singer. “Both the egg smash and the popular cakewalk for kids benefit Idyllwild School.” Singer said wrist bands for all games and booths are $5 and are available at the Carnival from the time the parade begins. As always, local businesses are giving out candy and Singer asked parade watchers along North Circle to bring candy to give if they choose. “We don’t want to run out,” she said.

On a sad note, Singer praised the work of Ted Cummings, who as recently as last Tuesday, Oct. 20, was arranging street closure permits for the carnival. Cummings, an indefatigable Idyllwild volunteer, as longtime logistics coordinator for Idyllwild Arts’ Jazz in the Pines and past president of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce, always radiated competence and good humor in his many local service capacities. Cummings died Thursday, Oct. 22, at the age of 78.

All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, has evolved over the centuries to mix celebrations of harvests’ end, honoring the dead and ancient rituals of mysticism and magic. The belief that souls of the dead return on one night of the year, Oct. 31, is found in many cultures throughout the world. Christian All Hallows Eve observances, lighting candles on the graves of the dead, overlap with pagan beliefs that the dead are with us on the eve of All Hallows. It is a time to honor their spirits, to listen and be aware.

The custom of trick or treat may have originated in Ireland, Scotland and Wales where, beginning in the 16th century, people would go house to house in costume reciting verses in exchange for food. Revelers carried hollowed-out turnips carved with grotesque faces lit by candles meant to represent the spirits of the dead. It was not until the mass immigration of Scots and Irish in the 19th century that Halloween became a major holiday in the United States. More plentiful and easier-to-carve pumpkins replaced hollowed-out turnips as decorative symbols and lanterns.

This will be the final weekend for Kathy Sacher-Wilson’s Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town located behind Town Hall on Cedar Street. Check listings for local restaurants to see what Halloween happenings they have in store.


  1. The Concessions Snack bar at the Ghost Town, @ Town Hall will offer: Large Hot dog and beverage $2.00, Popcorn $1., Cotton Candy $1.00, Nachos $2.00, Soft drinks and bottled water $1.00. Both Friday and Saturday night.