Register | Forums | Log in

Halloween Central: McDonald Avenue

A group of costumed "companionship" ladies greet visitors Halloween night to Mableton, the more formal name of the McDonald Mansion in Santa Rosa. The historic home featured a detailed recreation of Jack the Ripper's London, circa 1888.

JEFF KAN LEE/ The Press Democrat
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 5:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 9:46 p.m.

When Brooke Clyde bought his house on Santa Rosa's McDonald Avenue five years ago, the deal came with the kind of legal disclosure normally reserved for divulging nasty news like nearby flood zones.

Every Halloween, it warned, an endless stream of kids would come traipsing though his yard. Clyde wasn't fazed, he just got prepared every Halloween.

“We will go through 5,000 pieces this year and we will run out,” he said watching young revellers stop by. “It's fun.”

His neighbor, Erik Helleskov, makes do with 3,000 pieces, purchased on his once-a-year trip to Costco, just for the holiday.

“It has to be the good stuff,” he said. “Tootsie Rolls don't make it.”

Candy, though, may be the least of the offerings available at the annual street party in one of Santa Rosa toniest neighborhoods, which attendees and home owners say gets larger every year.

Amid the crowds of people in costume on a balmy Monday night, an “anarchist street band” danced to “Down By the Riverside,” flaming hula hoopers spun fire and at least one bonfire raged.

On a street where houses look professionally decorated for the holiday, John Webley took things to another level. The owner of the historic McDonald Mansion recreated Jack the Ripper's London, complete with a pub, police, boxing ring and coyly fanning can-can dancers.

“I thought it would be one or two houses, I had no idea it would be the whole block,” said Sanchez Prusso, a carpenter from San Anselmo who made the trek north to check things out.

The friendliness, generosity and art reminded him of Burning Man, the annual party in the Nevada desert, said Prusso, wearing a rubber scalp studded with glowing lights.

The crowds, though, aren't everyone's cup of tea. Eight-year-old Aleina Albert, who was dressed as a rock'n'roll pirate, said she'd would have preferred a neighborhood where trick-or-treat lines weren't so long and streets weren't so crowded.

“I was scared I was going to get lost from mommy and daddy,” she said.

Michael Ellis, who has lived on street for more than a decade, called the event a gift from the street to the community. Halloween is his favorite holiday — and news of the annual festival made him more eager to buy his house.

But if it ever gets out of hand, it'll stop, he said before picking up a fuel soaked hula hoop, ready to twirl fire around his neck on his front lawn.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top