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City Walk: Family-Friendly Halloween Jaunt

This almost one-mile walk shows off some of the best Halloween decorations in town. It's nice and short—so bring the kids along!

Full disclosure: I did a City Walk sort of like this last December, but I’m only following a similar route because nobody dresses up the holidays better than those folks on Diamond.  If that’s not enough variety for you, then I’m throwing down the gauntlet.  Do better next year!  Maybe then you can bring the City Walk glory to your street. 

More full disclosure: I took this walk at night because I really wanted to capture the spooky decorations, and some things really were more fun to see that way.  But I also missed a lot of displays because—as I discovered—Halloween isn’t usually about the lights.

So take your pick. Night or day, this walk is fun for the whole family—kids included. It is short and entertaining enough that even the whiniest, laziest little goblins should be able to keep it together. If not, their screeching yowls of displeasure will bring an added touch of horror to the event. If you are the parent of the screeching goblin, then I feel your pain (really, almost constantly), but the aural disturbance might bring a vivid sense of real distress to other pedestrians looking for authentic Halloween atmosphere, so just go with it. 

Start at the corner of Oxley and Windsor. Put on your happy voice, and tell the little goblins to admire the house with all the cool lights on the northside  of Oxley. Listen to the goblins "oh" and "aw" in good-natured agreement. Savor that moment as the rare and blessed thing it is: Family harmony.

Head south on Windsor. Point to a house, any house, and tell the goblins that THAT HOUSE is, supposedly, the most haunted house in South Pasadena. This will start a long conversation that could go many ways, but all which involve you telling a long story of why that house is haunted. Say whatever you want. Go crazy! But include the line, “And they never found the old lady’s teeth.” We’re creating an urban legend here, people. Let’s work together.

If you’re lucky, the haunted house conversation will beguile your goblins enough that they won’t realize there is not a lot going on here—at least at night—decorations wise. There are a few cute details. Love the tombstone! If you’re smart, you’ll add that to your story. 

At Monterey, look left and take in ; It's the most gothic-looking church you’ll find here in town. Then turn right and head west up Monterey until you get to the motherlode: Diamond. 

Turn right at Diamond, and tell the goblins to take it all in. If you’ve done your job right, they should be primed for all the visual glory: The glowing pirate, the adorable little ghost lights and—best of all—the house. The really cool one on the east side of the street that has the big “Cemetery” gate and the makeshift graveyard—complete with ghouls, ghosts and scary glowing people—right inside! 

Whoever lives here, know this: I love you and your epic Halloween spirit! This must takes days to complete! Does the whole family pitch in? I seem to recall reading that it is one gentleman’s labor of love to do this each year. If this is true, then God bless you, sir! And, even more so, God bless your wife, because I would totally resent all the time this must take you and wonder why you were not taking a more active role in laundry.

Enjoy this fun street as you make your way past all the other wonderful houses that spread Halloween magic through artful decorations. When you get to , you will see that even the art school crowd has gotten into the act (love the bloody handprints).

Turn left at El Centro, and make your way up to Meridian. Turn right.  Walk to Mission and cross the street, but not before you check out the used bookstore with its Halloween books and decorations. I saw a hardback copy of The Help waiting in lonely sadness in the window. You saw the movie, now read the book.

Cross the street so that you are on the north side of Mission. You will notice—because the window says so—that Buster’s is Celebrate! Get the goblins some ice cream; they’ve barely whined at all! Stomachs full, mosey east on Mission and do a little window shopping.  looks fabulous. looks as festive as ever. What the heck? A Santa at ? I swear, the holiday shopping season gets earlier every year. 

At Fairview Avenue, turn right and cross the street. Be careful: There’s no stoplight and this is a busy street. Plus, the ice cream is gone now, so the goblins are restless, and restless goblins mean panicky parents, and panicky parents don’t always make good decisions (I am living proof).

If you don’t think you can cross safely, go down one more block, cross at Fremont and make your way back. Walk south on Fairview. Pass the scariest part of this Halloween Walk: The parking lot, home of the infamous , which is fun, until you’ve worked the bowling game for two hours straight. Now that, my friends, is a horror you don’t want to think about.

Walk until you reach Oxley. Turn left and voila! You are basically back where you started. Go home, and let the goblins run wild. If you dare.

Walking directions

  1. Start at the corner of Windsor and Oxley.  Head south on Windsor.
  2. Turn right at Monterey.
  3. Turn right at Diamond.
  4. Turn left at El Centro.
  5. Turn right at Meridian.
  6. Turn right at Mission.
  7. Turn right at Fairview. (If the traffic is too heavy, walk down to Fremont, cross there, and make your way back.)
  8. Turn left at Oxley. Walk until you are back where you started. 
kay mouradian October 25, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Margaret, your articles are a joy to read. This one makes me want to be a kid again!
H.M. October 25, 2011 at 05:43 PM
FYI: The blue house behind Busters on the other side of the tracks is the Michael Myers house from the 1978 John Carpenter Halloween movie, which was originally located across the street and moved for the development of the housing that is there now.
Kristen Lepore (Editor) October 25, 2011 at 06:49 PM
@H.M. I knew Halloween was filmed in South Pas, but didn't realize that that was the house from the film. This article has more details: http://aol.it/tI20zN
Margaret Finnegan October 25, 2011 at 11:49 PM
Kay: Thanks. H.M.: I'm with Kristen. I knew the general facts, but not the specifics. Thanks for sharing.
Bianca Richards October 26, 2011 at 03:59 AM
Great fun Margaret-your pieces are a delight. More movie trivia, I live in the house where the character played by Jamie Lee Curtis lived in the classic 1978 "Halloween" movie ( corner of Oxley and Fairview) I keep pumpkins out all year long so that fans can take a picture and sit where Jamie Lee Curtis sat.
Margaret Finnegan October 26, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Bianca: That's so fun. Now I'm going to have to go back and find your house.
H.M. October 30, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Binaca, have you lived there all these years? http://www.seeing-stars.com/locations/Halloween/
H.M. October 30, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Bianca, have you lived there all these years? http://www.seeing-stars.com/locations/Halloween/

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