It was a perfect night for Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village. Crisp, but not too cold. Cloudy but not too dreary. The hundreds of jack-o-lanterns lining the streets of the village lit the dark night with the help of the bright almost-full moon.
My husband, Richard, and I took the kids to the 8:30 Friday entrance. We always prefer the later times because we like it to be completely dark when we start out. I second guessed that decision this time when we arrived with a crabby two-year-old Clifford. His little cat nap in the car was just a smidgeon too long, so waking him and trying to wiggle him into his big red dog costume (what else?) was a bit of a task. Actually, he was screaming.
I would have said forget the costume, but since it was doubling as his coat, that wasn’t really an option. A not-so-quick strap in the stroller and we were off. As soon as Cliff saw all the other costumed children, he quickly (and thankfully) got into the spirit of the night. And since the first treat station was a yummy Michigan-grown apple, he was good to go.
I can’t really count how many times we’ve been to this event. I can tell you—since our oldest child is 19—it’s been many.
The event has really grown over the years. It’s so well done. The costumes of the folks at the treat stations and those performing at the slightly spooky stops along the trail are fun and just down-right fantastic.
Five-year-old Lillian was dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. She was thrilled to show the hilarious Genie along the path that her shoes were just as sparkly as his. I think I owe some sort of a “thank you” to The Henry Ford for saving me from having to make another costume. I made the Dorothy costume years ago, and it had eagerly been worn by our older daughters when they were Lillian’s age. For some reason, Lillian wouldn’t give that costume an ounce of consideration until we went to the Wizard of Oz interactive exhibit at Henry Ford Museum. It wasn’t until after I procured sparkly shoes, planned a well-timed Oz movie night and dug up photos of the big sisters in the costume, that lo-and-behold Miss Lillian all on her own (wink, wink) chose to be Dorothy.
The little kids thought the pirates at the Suwanee Lagoon were especially fun, and eagerly looked forward to each of the treat stations. I appreciated how much fun the costumed staff had with all the children. We all had some good silly laughs. Nine-year-old Henry—who was dressed as a newspaper boy from the 1940s—was appreciative every time someone from the village commented on his getup or called for a paper. He told me his costume idea months ago after hearing stories of my dad’s childhood paper route. He came up with the pieces of the costume all on his own, and it was just perfect.
The older children enjoyed the spookier elements like the mad scientist in the window of Menlo Park Machine Shop, the mysterious person lurking in the smoky candle-lit Martha Mary Chapel, the cemetery in the Village Green, and the walk through Sleepy Hollow Forest.
Our long-time family favorites are the haunted Carousel and the ghostly woman at the Robert Frost house.
“Moderately creepy,” was the phrase our 14-year-old daughter Mary Claire used to describe the slightly spooky moments along the path. Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village is certainly not intended to scare. With fun and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s subtly a little eerie but never in-your-face frightening.
Sure, there were moments when Cliff and Lillian were a little uneasy. The Headless Horseman was not Lil’s favorite, and Cliff was less than thrilled with the dancing skeletons and the scarecrow that comes to life. (To put that in perspective, maybe I should also mention that Lillian is afraid of flushing toilets, and Cliff shudders at the suggestion of wearing socks. Really.)
When we explained to Lil that it’s all in good fun and that no one was really missing a head, she relaxed and wanted a closer look. I’m still surprised that Cliff didn’t like the skeletons. I find them cute and lighthearted, but it goes to show you how differently children see things. In the end, a good time was had by all, and it was the perfect way to kick off Halloween in the Hass house.
Limited tickets are still available for some of the late entry times Oct. 21-23 and Oct 28-30. Parents should know that it’s very easy to shield younger children from the few things they may consider a little spooky. Also, there is food service available during the event at Mrs. Fisher’s Southern Cooking, Taste of History and The Workshop & Guild Beer Hall.
Kristine Hass is a writer and long-time member of The Henry Ford. She frequently blogs about her family’s visits to America’s Greatest History Attraction.