The first time we took our young children to the Halloween celebration at the Chicago Botanic Gardens:
Follow the meandering stream of families from the parking lot to the food station for doughnuts and cider. Thus fortified, we started on the Friendly Walk.
There were two "walks," a friendly walk where you got to meet the Care Bears and Sesame Street characters and a scary walk. Obviously with a four-year-old, we chose the Friendly Walk.
After greeting a giant pink Care Bear, we somehow veered off the correct path. We walked up a few decorative stairs that led to a series of large water lily containers set into the terrace. Without warning the Creature from the Black Lagoon sprang out of the nearest water lily container and grabbed the nearest ankle, which was our four-year old, Jamie. She screamed and waved her hands wildly. The Creature disappeared beneath the water, as she continued wailing.
Before we could recover from the shock, Frankenstein appeared, lumbering down the path toward us, hands extended. Jamie began screaming again, truly terrified. In an act of kindness, Frankenstein stopped his lumbering, bent down to her and said, "I'm not really a monster. I'm wearing a costume. Don't be afraid." Jamie was only partly convinced, but she did begin to regain her composure.
The rest of our Halloween adventure went smoothly - a hayride, not-scary storytime, pumpkin decorating.
The second time we took our children to the Halloween celebration at the Chicago Botanic Gardens:
Jamie informed up that she was a big girl now and wanted to go on the Scary Walk. Since none of the rest of us were scared by the previous scary walk, we said okay.
This year it was raining and the entire Scary Walk was located in one courtyard that had overhangs so everyone could stay dry, more or less. Well, Jamie began to lose it almost immediately, with all those scary characters so close together, but the topper was the Screamer, the character dressed like Death in a black robe, carrying a scythe, and wearing the scary mask of the white, screaming face. She began screaming.
The Screamer, though, was not going to drop out of character. He came after Ben, our eight-year-old son, who took it in the Halloween spirit and even tried to threaten the Screamer back. Then he came toward Jamie, who ran from one to another of us, trying to hide behind us. "Mommy! Daddy! Ben! Help!!"
I admit it, I was laughing, even as I felt for her.
She really loved Halloween - I believe she still does, and she tried several times to go to "haunted houses" with her friends, who always had to rescue her mid-house. I think that nowadays she sticks to parties at Halloween.