Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do YOU believe in Ghosts?

On a perfectly dreary night this past week, some friends and I trudged around Anoka, Minnesota hearing stories of the ghosts thought to still be haunting the various homes and businesses in town.  (All in the Halloween spirit, of course, since Anoka is the "Halloween Capital of the World"!)  One ghost is a prankster, randomly ringing the doorbell and turning lights off and on.  Another is believed to be a previous merchant in one of the stores on Main Street who throws things around the store (a Halloween store, no less!)  Another is a retired military man that cares for the people in the house, tucking the children in tightly and providing comfort for the family when they are ill, just like he cared for injured soldiers during his military career.  Some ghosts are timid, others are bold.  There are many stories by the current families in these homes, but all families agree that the apparitions are not scary at all.

The Ghosts of Anoka Walking Tour, put on by the Anoka County Historical Society, is described as "a skillful weaving together of history, conjecture, and fact, sprinkled with a flair for the dramatic and seasoned by good story telling." The history of the city and some of the old homes was very interesting.  Whether or not you believe in ghosts is up to you.

Back in about 1920, Anokans awoke to find their cows roaming Main Street, their windows soaped and their outhouses tipped over, and they decided something had to be done.  Anoka, Minnesota is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from Halloween pranks.  Anoka has a schedule of events every year that includes the Orange Tie Ball; well-attended costume parades; pumpkin carving contests; haunted houses; huge costume contests & parties; and fundraisers - something for everyone.  I think this is fun, especially since most elementary schools and many churches now ban the evils of Halloween.  It's actually a great way to pull together a community.

I look kind of tall and thin, don't you think?  LOL.

This jack-o-lantern sits on top of City Hall.  It was a gift to Anoka by a neighboring city, but given as somewhat of a prank.  Anoka was invited to participate in a contest to see which city could produce the largest pumpkin, and the winner would be announced at Anoka's annual pageant.  Much spying was done on the neighboring city to see how the growing was going, but Anoka could never find the other city's crop of pumpkins.  At the pageant, Anoka wheeled out their humongous pumpkin for the judging, and the neighboring city brought in this neon sign they had made.  (No specifications had been given as to how to "produce" the pumpkin!) Nice gift in the Halloween spirit!

Main Street was once lined with several of these sidewalk sections of the Halloween logo, but when the street was widened some years back, this is the only survivor - and is now placed on the walk in front of City Hall.

What do you remember about Halloween as a kid?  I remember our garage windows being soaped up by pranksters on Halloween night.  Adults throughout the neighborhoods feared other pranks like egging, toilet-papering, tipped over garbage cans, etc.  Nothing too drastic, just annoyances.  All we wanted to do was dress up and collect our CANDY, and hoped that one neighbor wouldn't really make us do tricks again this year for our treats. 

So, on with the costume-making, face-painting and ghost-busting!


  1. Now THAT sounds like a fun way to enjoy Halloween! I also enjoy a good ghost story. We lived in Columbus, MS for a few years. Every year they have a Pilgrimage tour of the antebellum homes and most of them had a ghost story. One house called Waverly had several! I always looked forward to that part of the tour.

    I lived in a VERY small town growing up. We were able to trick-or-treat at EVERYONE's house! There was an elderly couple who popped THE BEST POPCORN every year. If they had run out, they would saym "We're popping some more so come back in a little bit!" - and we would!

    Thanks for the fun post!
    :) Ann

  2. Thanks for the Halloween scoop on Anoka. The tour sounds like a lot of fun. Another place I need to put on my places to see.


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