Monday, November 14, 2005

Halloween Weekend

My friend and neighbor, Terri gave me her pictures of Halloween and the International Festival. It was a couple of weekends ago but it's never too late to post about my experiences here in Japan.

We volunteered for a few hours at the Himeji International Festival and helped out our friends with the Australian Aboriginal Art Booth the Sunday before Halloween. There were booths from all over the world with crafts, art, food and a stage with music and dance. After just living here for a couple of months, we know quite a few people in Himeji. It's a small town and I think we (the English teachers) are in a high profile job or more likely it's that we stick out because we are foreigners, we ran into and met with a lot of people from the community at the festival. It made me realize how small Himeji is and how much I really enjoy that sense of community.

Kudos to Lisa Takata! I keep thinking about how involved you are with the Phoenix community and all that you do. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, but it's so much fun to plan for events and to hang out and talk to different people to interact and exchange ideas. You rock!

Monday night we had the Shirasagi Residence Community Halloween Party. The Shinzaike community was really enthusiastic about having a Halloween Party. Several weeks prior to the party, we invited the community leaders to a planning meeting and our boss helped to facilitate the discussion. There was some tension with the community because of an outdoor, patio party that occurred a couple of months ago on a Friday night, with music that continued to the late hour of 10pm. Anyway, I think our attendance at the Shinzaike Matsuri and the Halloween Party really improved relations!!

We were expecting anywhere from 50-75 children, but approximately 125 children showed up and we didn't have enough stuff for all of the kids. It was crazy chaos but it was fun. Considering the nuttiness, we were actually quite organized with groups of children who were numbered and color coded so smaller groups of children could rotate at specific intervals from booth to booth and to help facilitate the costume contest and trick or treating. There was a strict schedule, 5:30pm potluck, 6:15pm pumpkin carving demonstration, 6:30pm children go to and rotate through various activity areas, 7:25pm costume contest, 7:40pm trick or treating demonstration and groups lead by the teachers for trick or treating throughout our apartment building

It was no small feat to get a large pumpkin. Some of the teachers went to Costco in Kobe and convinced the store manager to sell us one pumpkin from a store display. We all pulled together to plan and purchase decorations, candy and prizes. The activity areas included a mask making area, apple bobbing area and a game where the children had to toss a small bean bag and hit a bottle. I was working at the trick or treat bag decorating area, Julian manned the eating a doughnut that was hanging from a string area. We were all pretty tired after 3-4 hours of setting-up, halloween insanity, and clean-up. The adults needed to have a little halloween fun as well, so afterwards we hung out in our friend's apartment and toasted to our success and ate lots of candy.

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