December 6 2013 Latest news:
By Lauren Rogers
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The door creaks open to reveal a dark room where cobwebs hang thick from the ceiling, candles flicker and sharp teeth wait.
Fortunately for the faint hearted, this creepy Halloween house in Caister is more family fun than fright night.
For the past seven years, the Oakley family has decorated their home in Oxnead Drive and organised an All Hallow’s Eve party for friends. Last night, their tradition continued while hundreds of others across the borough hit the streets as trick or treaters.
Mum Helen Oakley said the annual Halloween party started small – just a few pumpkins and a themed tablecloth in the conservatory, but it has grown into a monster that takes her days to prepare and put into action.
As party guests arrived tonight, they will be greeted by a huge hand-carved pumpkin, glowing lanterns and ghostly mannequins as the music of Michael Jackson’s Thriller plays in the background.
The entire ground floor of the Oakley house has been decorated for Halloween; there are bats and black cobwebs clinging to the walls and ceilings as well as spooky props in every room.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Helen, 41.
“It’s just a bit of fun for the children really, but the adults love it too. Everyone comes in fancy dress, there’s face painting and Halloween games. It is really good fun.
“It takes me about five days to decorate the house, then there’s a day of baking and cooking all the Halloween food.”
Describing the Halloween house as a “bit of a bat cave”, Helen adds something new every year and said the costumes get better each time with prosthetics, realistic make-up and scary contact lenses.
This year Helen is dressing as a ghost pirate, while husband Carl, 52, is a zombie surgeon, daughter Enya, 15, a zombie schoolgirl, and son Keenan, 12, a vampire.
Caister High School students Enya and Keenan go to the Phyllis Adams School of Dance in Great Yarmouth and have invited about 30 of their stage school friends to join the party.
“There is a fun factor with the dressing up,” said Helen.
“And we have prizes for best costumes. I do a Halloween quiz and we have games like drinking blood, which is actually cranberry juice in a baby’s bottle, chubby bunnies where you have to fit marshmallows in your mouth and wrapping a mummy using toilet roll.
“This year we’ve got doughnuts hanging from string and you have to eat them without using your hands which is a lot harder than it sounds.”
While Britain’s 21st century Halloween celebrations still mark the night before the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day – when people traditionally remember the dead – they have long been influenced by customs from all over the world. Today’s traditions include carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, eating toffee apples and trick-and-treating.
The tradition of going from door-to-door for treats is huge in America, but has existed in Britain and Ireland for centuries. First there was “souling” where children and poor families would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes and later, in the 19th century, people wore costumes to go “guising” and knocked on doors for food and money.