Ghosts and Ghouls: Why this Brooklyn neighborhood goes crazy for Halloween

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Every year, Park Slope goes nuts for Halloween. Residents decorate stoops and houses with pumpkins and ghosts, witches and ghouls–the half-dead and the haunted.

Thirty years ago, when I first moved to this neighborhood, I was struck by all the quirky, homespun Halloween decorations that sprang up like mushrooms in early October. My favorite decorations were always the ones that local residents dug out of their dark imaginations. Like Darth Vader draped over a gas lantern, its hollow eyes spookily glowing; and the handpainted tombstones in a front areaway announcing the death, resurrection, and final resting spot of its occupant.20171012_163817.jpg

This year, I thought some more about why Park Slope is so enamored of Halloween. To begin with, there’s the obvious presence of families and children, of artists, writers, and musicians; and the less obvious presence of Wiccans and clairvoyants and of longtime residents with memories stretching back generations. After living here long enough, I’ve heard tell of spirits that move among us. More sensitive neighbors have reported ghosts wandering bloodied and bandaged in Long Meadow, or staring ghoulishly at night from the top floor windows of Litchfield Villa.

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A cursory internet research on “Ghosts of Park Slope” confirmed what I’d already suspected. The casualties of war–both the Battle of Brooklyn fought on this soil, and the Civil War, which left many families grief-stricken when young sons were lost–may well account for both the ghostly activity in Park Slope and for our enduring fascination with Halloween in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

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How do you celebrate Halloween in your neighborhood?

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