Halloween in Washington seems wackier and weirder each year. What was once a kids' holiday has become a waking and walking daymare and nightmare. Strange scenes from Washington's own festival of the Hallows:
Step right up ladies and gentlemen and witness the most amazing spectacle this side of the grave!
Step into Georgetown Saturday night, where a flasher atop a Metrobus exposes an orange paper heart; where two Arabs, taunting an earnest street-corner preacher, drop to their knees and bow Moslem-style; where four infantrymen, toting machine guns and wearing camouflage, direct traffic in drill-sergeant fashion; where a husky, bearded man in clingy turquoise dress displays his massiveness beneath a sign saying: "I survived Three Mile Island."
Step over to Crumpets, where L'roi the French dragon, an eight-foot black serpent with knobby knees and pointy toenails, is nibbling an ice cream cone.
He diets: "I eat muppets, especially little green ones, and I don't eat pigs because I'm kosher."
He laments: "I used to get gigs guarding fleeces and princesses. Then I went to Japan and tried to get into movies, but it's all sewn up there."
He is: actor Matt Mitler of Alexandria.
Step over to the entrance of Dino's and behold the Human Tube of Toothpaste, wearing a white gown emblazoned "Crest" and a corrugated plastic lampshade.
She flirts: "Squeeze me . . . "
She teases: "I like to be used."
When she's not cleaning teeth, she is: Michelle Domowicz, a student at Catholic University.
Step over to the front of the National Bank of Washington, where "President Ronald Reagan" is bobbing his tilted head and cradling Bonzo the monkey.
He's budget-conscious: "I live in a log cabin and split rails."
He waxes philosophical: "It's an optical illusion that my head bobs. Actually, it's the rest of my body that wiggles and my head that stays still."
When he's not Ronnie, he says he is "Running from the law." -- Liz Nakahara
He wanted to be home for all the trick-or-treaters. He wouldn't go out, except to walk the dog. And all afternoon he waited. Through two college football games, through two taped fights, through endless replays of Sean O'Grady getting battered senseless, he waited.
He looked at the glass jar stocked with candy bars. He hadn't wanted to be caught short, so he bought four big bags of candy, 96 bite-size bars. "Smart move," his wife giggled. "We had nine kids last year. Now we're covered through the decade."
Nothing at all until dusk. Then a witch, a Dracula, a Yoda. Neighborhood kids. He recognized their fathers at the curb, standing in the shadows like spies from an Alec Guinness movie. A group of teen-age girls. A witch, a devil, a hillbilly, a football player, a schoolmarm and a girl not in costume at all -- undoubtedly a liberated type.
Then, two young boys, one dressed as a skeleton, the other describing himself as "a crazy-looking man." (He considered briefly, then decided against asking that one for his position on the AWACS sale.) Finally a trio of boys. A ghost, a devil and a boy wearing a box, claiming to be "the Missing Link -- a game by Ideal."
And that was it, so he took the dog out. Hardly any damage to the block. No cracked eggs or chalked houses. Only a single shaving cream attack -- to a tree, not even a car. As he walked he saw the last stragglers in costume. A rabbit. A nun, maybe even Mother Teresa. A boy in a feathered headdress, a refugee from the Village People.
And then, from a distance of maybe 70 yards, he saw the best of all: some girl dressed as an old woman carrying a bag. On Halloween everyone carried a bag, so why not go out as a bag lady? He quickened his stride to catch her and tell her how much he respected her costume. But as he got close, he realized it wasn't a costume at all. And he stopped, and just for a moment he felt slightly embarrassed and terribly sad. -- Tony Kornheiser
Who's that talking to Charlie?
Witches and clowns and Arabs, oh my! Killer bees with machine guns and ghouls with red eyes; Napoleon and Josephine and Scarlett and Rhett; Jackie and Guevara and Miss Piggy and Kermit.
While bubbles drifted out of a fountain and rose to the Pension Building's towering ceiling, and as Big Band sounds poured from the Lester Lanin Orchestra, WRC's Charlie Rose, White House spokesmen David Gergen and Peter Roussel, and Rep. W. Eugene Johnston (R-N.C.) judged the masquerade parade at the Decade Society's ball Saturday night.
A bag of jellybeans plus Evita Peron; Wonder Woman and Superman and Chicken Little full-grown; Senator Heinz Ketchup with Reagan relish to go; Christina Dearest and her wire hanger; Ralph Lauren and his polo.
"I wandered in by mistake," Gergen joshed. Actually, some members of the Decade Society -- a social club of young professionals that has held two balls a year since 1979 and last year raised about $11,000 for charities -- work in his office and invited him and Roussel to judge the competition. Both men, as well as Rose, said they liked the couple dressed as a socket and plug the best. Candace Ostrander and Peter Von Feilitzer, known as AC/DC, won first place for couples. The judges' decision drew enthusiastic applause from some 2,000 guests in costume and black tie.
A peacock, Abe Lincoln, Merlin and punk rockers; Mr. Bill, Raggedy Ann and some marathon jockers. Siamese farmers who could barely stand up; a Medfly, King Kong and a tipsy bishop. Igor, Devo, and a me'nage a trois with humility; the Ghost of The Washington Star, a laundry basket, and a cardboard Window of Vulnerability.
"I'm kind of old fashioned," said Roussel, after the pageant. "I still like Rhett and Scarlett." -- Leslie Berger
"We assume the ghosts are very supportive of our activities," said C. Dudley Brown, a member of the board of directors of the Congressional Cemetery Association at Saturday's festival in the historic graveyard. "After all, this is how they're being taken care of," said Brown, gesturing with his rosewood cane, appropriately carved to resemble a snake.
Halloween day was chilly and gray -- a perfect day for playing in the nation's oldest cemetery. A spirited crowd of more than 1,000 gathered for a funereal afternoon of music, food and talk with Capitol Hill neighbors. Proceeds from the sixth annual event will go toward the upkeep and protection of the long-neglected burial ground, and toward repairs to monuments recently damaged by vandals.
Screams and shrieks echoed among the ancient tombstones as costumed children darted in and out. Vendors selling hot mulled cider and autumn crafts lined the main avenue, beneath cellophane "ghosts" floating from the trees. Many of the cemetery celebrants visited the graves of John Philip Sousa and Mathew Brady, and sported bright orange and black buttons reading "I Dig Congressional Cemetery."
Most kids would think twice about climbing a tombstone on Halloween, but 10-year-old Dalton Ross and his friend Tyler Treat, 9, professed bravery. "Nothing scares me," boasted Ross. "But I wouldn't come here at night," he quickly amended. -- Joe Brown
It was a little bit of Bar Wars Saturday afternoon as the first annual Masquerade Saloon Chase got under way under cloudy skies at the Sylvan Theatre grounds. Fifty costumed teams representing Washington area bars competed to see how quickly they could move from bar to bar doing silly things -- the only apparent difference between the day and night versions of the contest being that the daytime version was played against a clock to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (which benefited to the tune of $5,000). Participants traveled to five restaurant-saloons via Metro or on foot, a sure way to work up a thirst.
The race was preceded by a costume contest judged by WAVA radio personalities; it should have been won by deejay Pat Reilly, who surprised the small gathering by pulling off his mass of curls and revealing a very bald head ("I came as a straight person"). Other inspired costumes included two identical Hershey kisses ("Marshall Coleman and Chuck Robb," as Reilly said) and Chadwick's employes Brad Langstaff and Tony Hamed as "dangerous phosphorous mutants" with quart-size beer cans at the end of their face masks. Better yet were white-sheeted Laurie Flynn and Loretta Ucelli as a Saudi sheik and his AWACS. "We wanted something timely, topical and controversial," said Ucelli, admitting they had to do a little fast talking to convince their black cab driver they were not on their way to a KKK rally.
The winners of both the costume contest and the saloon race (in one hour and 10 minutes) were Patrick Raffauiello and Kevin Dinan, dressed as the gold-encrusted FTD messenger and his flower; oddly enough, both are local managers for FTD. They survived a five-bar race that included such obstacles as building a two-story house of cards, signing a canvas with a brush held in the mouth and bobbing for strawberries in champagne.
Some teams apparently didn't care as much about placing as showing, so they stopped for a bite of lunch with their imbibing. Other participants were either still wobbling -- or already wobbling -- as if they weren't much used to being competitive so early on a Saturday morning. One team even showed up in old-fashioned swim trunks and tubes, apparently confusing the saloon chase with another MS fund-raiser, the Rambling Raft Race. Though some came just because, most came for a just cause. -- Richard Harrington
A turn-away crowd at the 9:30 club was dressed for Halloween but was there for the music as much as for the holiday. The special musical event was the first performance of the recently reconstituted local band Urban Verbs. The crowd didn't really get wild until the local favorites hit the stage just past the witching hour. Up until then the kids had a typical Saturday night: jumping up and down and, sometimes, dancing. They also watched TV: tapes of such faves as Siouxsee and the Banshees.
The time between live musical acts was given over to eyeing each other, very difficult given the darkness inside the club. In addition to the normal black-on-blood punk exotica on display, there was a couple wrapped in gold Christmas tree tinsel standing riveted before the TV, and a petite young lady with her body wrapped in an aqua boa and six peacock feathers. Verbs lead singer Robbie Franz dressed for the occasion in a priest's shirt complete with turnaround collar. There was a bishop and several monks in the crowd.
Three marines up from Camp Lejeune, N.C., staked out a place at the bar. They were dressed in "Deer Hunter" chic: combat fatigues, down vests and tractor hats. After several hours, a companion at the bar asked Joe Hayes if a place like this would go over in North Carolina. Wistfully, Hayes shook his head: "If it would, I wouldn't have to drive all the way here." -- Michael Goldfarb