Halloween lends ghoulish touch to area eventsHalloween is a great excuse for artists to interpret the season in an other-worldly manner, and for ordinary people to dress in super-human or wanna-be costumes, and for one evening a year, they transform into living art forms.
By: Sharon Cox, The Jamestown Sun
Halloween is a great excuse for artists to interpret the season in an other-worldly manner, and for ordinary people to dress in super-human or wanna-be costumes, and for one evening a year, they transform into living art forms.
Whether going to a haunted house or trick-or-treating, many people really get a kick out of the spooky dress-up holiday. Second only to Christmas, Halloween is the participation holiday where everyone has an opportunity to actually do something to add to theirs and others’ enjoyment of the day.
Christmas is a religious holiday, but Halloween is not considered a religious holiday. It is among a handful of holidays considered secular here: the so-called alphabet days, such as anniversaries, family holidays, New Year’s Day, United Nations Day and unofficial observances, such as Arbor Day and Earth Day.
All-Saints Day is considered a non-secular holiday because it is related to the dead souls rising to return to their cemeteries to visit the living. People in Latin countries celebrate it and Halloween much differently than we do in the U.S.
Halloween is like New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve, when parties and fun lead into a more sober day of celebration. It’s a hang-over from ancient Celtic and Druid celebrations in Western Europe. It was a season of harvest and the stocking up of foods for winter. In Ireland it was Samhain, the celebration of pagan rites of fertility and plenty. Bonfires were among the many traditions associated with the 31st of October. Hallows Eve celebrations and food were ever-present, as were costumes.
In Jamestown there are corn mazes, haunted houses, adult as well as teen masquerade parties, dances, candy treat give-aways at the mall and occult celebrations. In nearby Fort Buford Cemetery, the dead rise to explain their passing and wander among the living to give them a chill colder than the evening’s temperatures.
In past years Jamestown College students from business and art departments sponsored a haunted house in various parts of town. The Wizard, JC’s history professor, Dr. Timothy Bratton, took the frightened to outer space via a crystal ball and delighted in conveying the most historic gut-wrenching versions of illness and death to the petrified lines of visitors. He is going this year to Fort Buford to work his magic, and this year he will be amid those walking a cemetery.
According to Site Supervisor Steven Reidburn (originally from Jamestown and a former student of Bratton’s) the “ghosts of military-past come out once a year to walk the cemetery.”
He and a double handful of actors fill the shoes of the dead to reenact roles of prominent soldiers and workers buried there. He said the public is invited to join the haunting at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, when tours will be given through the cemetery, followed by food and drinks at the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center.
This year Bratton will be chronicling the diseases and murders that took the lives of so many men and women buried there. It is a family-friendly event and children with parents are invited to go through the maze of tombstones and ghostly actors. They’ll get a history lesson while getting to visit with the ghosts.
The cemetery has officers, boatmen, laundresses, wives, enlisted men and wandering drunks buried there. It has had hundreds of visitors every year, some returning just for the event from out of state. Housing is not readily available unless reserved well in advance, but camping is available close to Fort Buford.
Nearby the cemetery was the state’s only Black Masonic Lodge, Eureka 135. The first lodge (Caucasian) was Yellowstone 88, which when the government closed Fort Buford, was used and established by the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there. The site is marked for reconstruction of that historic building. It is across the road from the cemetery.
If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.