The remnants of the previous day’s snowfall—the first of the season—glistened in the warm glow of Jack O’ Lantern light this past Saturday. Across the wide campus lawn sprawled what appeared to be a fairytale land beneath the setting sun. It was All Hallows Eve, and Thomas More students had embraced the whimsical spirit of the night with great gusto: groups of revelers could be seen at any given time throughout the day stringing lights, carving pumpkins, and hauling wood from the forest to construct their own themed display. This was the night of TMC’s first ever campus Trick or Treat, hosted by the students for faculty children to have a chance to celebrate the holiday in a safe environment. Each class was issued the challenge of constructing the best trick-or-treating station they could out of whatever materials they could find. Based on the results of their efforts and the creativity of their costumes, one class would be proclaimed winner above the others.
Once night had fallen, the campus was transformed. Beneath Ambrose, the school’s ancient crabapple tree, there had arisen a saloon straight out of the Wild West. The senior class had outdone themselves: starting before noon and working largely with old wooden pallets, they had changed a small corner of the lawn into a raucous watering hole fit for the thirstiest cowboy. Inside, trick-or-treaters got the chance to compete for candy and “Cowboy cookies”. Armed with plastic rings, contestants could try and lasso a horse, or they could try their aim at knocking down miniature bowling pins. Kitty-corner to this lineup of games, they got to step up to the “bar” and order a sarsaparilla and popcorn. The seniors, decked out as cowboys, sheriffs, and other Western characters, milled about the display, greeting the children in drawling accents.
Once participants had had their fill of Wild West fun, they could step across the grass into glimmering, enchanting Neverland. Looming over the lawn beside the barn was the enormous profile of the Jolly Roger, bedecked in twinkling lights. The astoundingly inventive freshman had constructed a larger-than-life diorama of Captain Hook’s ship out of bedsheets and cardboard. Manning this fearful vessel was the captain himself, freshman Matt Amatruda, ’24, and his crew. Just beyond this, Tiger-Lilly, freshman Madeline Eastman, ’24 and her friends danced around their wigwam. They were joined by the Lost Boys, Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell in roasting some stuffed animals over a “fire” made of string lights. The visiting children got to participate in this revelry and face the wicked pirate crew for a bounty of candy.
Just beyond, the Juniors had concocted an ethereal display beneath the massive Norway Maple that looms over the lawn beside the Library. Layers of gauzy fabric and softly gleaming lights concealed Grendel’s treasure hoard. Under cover of the tree’s drooping branches, Grendel’s mother, Junior Lydia Smith, ’22, guarded a gigantic chest stuffed with gleaming jewels, chocolate bars of gold, and double chocolate cookies. Participants brave enough to face this formidable beast were called upon to wield Hrunting, a delicately wrought play sword, and strike her down to win her riches.
Finally, after carousing in the Saloon, flying through Neverland and facing a terrible monster, the trick-or-treaters ascended the steep climb of the Blanchard House Hill to Mount Olympus. There, they were greeted by the Sophomores, arrayed in glistening finery as the entire pantheon of ancient Greek Gods. Here, the humble of heart could entreat the deities for gifts of candy, nectar in the form of hot apple cider, and ambrosia: crisp apple slices dipped in luscious caramel. Reigning over the whole affair from their royal thrones were Zeus, Sophomore Damianos Soutsos, ’23, armed with his powerful lightning bolt, and Hera, Miss Bernadette Lloyd, ’23.
After everyone had had their fill of exploring the transformed campus and munching on sugary treats, they approached the cracking bonfires. Warming their chilled hands, they waited as Dean of Student Life, Dr. Denis Kitzinger, called all to attention so that they might hear the winner of the competition proclaimed. Amid a shower of assenting applause, it was declared that the seniors had won the honor of the title, for the remarkable amount of effort, ingenuity, and coordination they had exerted in building their Wild West display. The reveling continued into the night as students congratulated the winners and sang folk songs beneath the stars, while the children, sleepy after an evening filled with excitement, went home to their warm beds.