Wirth Watching: Halloween Parties


(ABC4)- This week, the country will spend over a billion dollars on fake skeletons, spider webs, and zombie stuff. That’s because this is the week of Halloween parties. Now, there is nothing new about Halloween parties, seeing that Utahns have thrown parties for over 100 years. 

ABC4’s Craig Wirth shows us how even 60-year-old school educational films taught people how to throw a party that would’ve been the envy of years past.

Yes, it’s Halloween again just like it was last year and the year before, and so on. It was back in a time when Utah kids lined up for blocks for the Salt Lake Tribune Halloween party. They lined up to bite apples but I didn’t get why they did that. However, some of the costume ideas were fun, like a mop on someone’s head for hair. You see, Halloween isn’t exactly a new thing.

Some people took it upon themselves to upload old super eight films of their parent’s Halloween parties on YouTube: dressing up in silly fake beards and marching band outfits while sipping wine (and you thought they used to act like grown-ups back then).  

But regardless, even back in 1904, 117 years ago, the tribune society page listed dozens of Halloween parties that were happening. One such party was when the Maccabee family of Ogden had a party with “Halloween games and fortune-telling” which “furnished no end of amusement.”. 

Vera Bonnemort, Mollie Barnes, and Daisy Strong from Kaysville were also entertaining guests for Halloween.

And finally, Mr. and Mrs. George W Thatcher was witness to “a very pretty party” their daughter Patience threw. 

And from one party we go to the next one, so on and so forth.

Even companies like the Paris Department Store threw parties with the traditional flare of the era but with none of the usual costumes like witches or ghosts. The YMCA got into the party atmosphere too. They even had a conga line dance going. There are so many things to do that it is difficult to know just where to start. 

For now, what you might want to do is pick a day that isn’t like the dark and overcast days we’ve been having lately. Next, and most importantly, get yourself one of those 1950s educational films on how to throw a Halloween party. These films can be a bit tough to sit through but if you hang in there, you’ll likely get a lot out of it.

First, the family in the film was able to make a jack-o-lantern while making commentary about how sad or sorry it looked. 

And there’s Peter running around with his cat mask on which he then hangs on a lamp. Now let’s think about this for a moment, putting a paper mask on a hot lamp. Do you think that’s a good idea? No, but it doesn’t seem to phase Peter or his family, except for their dog Shep, who waits until the next day to take the paper mask off the lamp. Then he proceeds to chew up the mask so that they can’t hang it up on the lamp again.  It’s the most educational moment out of the whole film, really.

Naturally, after seeing his mask all chewed up, Peter starts to cry. But here comes mom to the rescue making a costume out of 30 yards of cloth she happens to have to lay around the house. She even makes his straw hat. And of course, he wins with that.

And what does Peter win? Why it’s a box of balloons. Now, there goes Shep the dog leaping over Peter’s head happy that he won. Isn’t Halloween fun?

The lesson learned here is that if you want a happy Halloween, get yourself a really intelligent dog. Oh, and stay away from the internet or you will get really bad ideas like 10 million 400 thousand hits on combining baby showers and Halloween. That doesn’t sound bad, does it? Well, actually it does.

The last thing anyone needs is someone hanging a sign that says, “It’s a ghoul!” or “Someone’s ready to be a mummy!” I mean, really…

Regardless of what you’re going to do for a Halloween party, bear in mind that you’re going to throw a party, well you’re already part of a great tradition that’s been going on for over a hundred years. 

Just so you know, the number one costume this year is still a witch. The other ones are some of the traditional ones like dinosaurs, cowboys, and the like. A newcomer to the top ten list of costumes this year is Harley Quinn from DC Comics. 

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