No one ever saw them, but we knew they were there. The cold, piercing eyes that could instill terror in the staunchest soul were always shrouded in darkness – absorbed in the shadows – but we knew they were there. Unseen, always felt, never forgotten.
We might have forgotten our lunches or our homework, but we always remembered to run like the dickens when we passed that eerie orchard that we swore was haunted. Daylight or dusk, we flew as fast as our little legs would carry us.
So did they.
Parents seemed oblivious to our fears. Maybe they shrugged the legend off as foolishness – a silly child’s tale that grew more terrifying each year.
So did they.
They were there when our parents dragged us, unwillingly, to that same orchard to pick out a pumpkin each year. They were there when developers drove up to make Farmer O’Sell an offer for his land. They were there when bulldozers tore the trees and churned the soil – watching as their nests fell, one by one, and the earthworms they once consumed withered away in death, exposed to the sun.
They were watching when the first family moved into the first finished house – they were there when the second arrived – and then the others.
But the ravens don’t hide anymore – they wait. They’re always there, in the schoolyard, on the wires above or circling the town. Waiting for October.
And now, when children return home in the evening after trick-or-treating in Los Altos, so do they. And behind children’s eyes, the ravens’ cold, piercing eyes instill terror in the staunchest souls.
For all doors open to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. And on that hallowed evening, the doors to all souls are open, too.
The ravens merely await their new homes.
Doors downtown will open to ghosts and goblins, with loads of activities planned for the Los Altos Village Association’s Halloween Spooktacular, scheduled noon to 4 p.m. Friday along downtown streets.
If there’s an orange-pumpkin poster in a window, trick-or-treaters can cash in on candy noon to 3:30 p.m. And exclusively along State Street, tables will be set up for face painting, terrifying tattoos, ghoulish guessing games – with prizes, of course – crafts, a balloon artist, storytelling at Linden Tree Children’s Recordings & Books and an obstacle course that anyone over 8 can ace.
But the event is really geared for children 3-8.
And no Los Altos Halloween event would be complete without De Martini’s truck loaded with pumpkins – for carving, not smashing.
But beware those haunting parking problems – Los Altos High School will be celebrating its homecoming with a boo-hootiful downtown, noontime parade – space could be scarce and parking scary.
Santa Rita School’s Witches’ Delight returns to Los Altos for its 50th haunting 3-8 p.m. Friday at the school, 700 Los Altos Ave.
The carnival rides are back for the third year and will include the Dizzy Dragons, Frog Hopper, Kite Swings and new Wild Raft ride. Other attractions include games for all ages, a cakewalk, an obstacle course, cookie decorating, a costume contest and a pumpkin-growing contest. Churros, cotton candy and popcorn will be available for purchase. The Santa Rita BBQers will prepare dinner.
Admission is free, tickets for the activities are $1. Proceeds benefit the Santa Rita PTA. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event also boasts a silent auction that features items for all ages.
The annual Los Altos High School Pumpkin Patch has a new location this year – the front of the school at 201 Almond Ave. Run by school parents, it is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sunday. Pumpkin-patch proceeds benefit Los Altos High’s athletic programs.
For more information, visit www.mvla.net/lahs.
If you’re under the impression that only children have fun at Halloween, think again. The Los Altos Senior Center gets in the spirit with a potluck lunch scheduled noon Friday in the Hillview Community Center multipurpose room, 97 Hillview Ave.
To get in on the action, cook up a dish – spooky or not – for three people.
“Some of our members dress up in costume,” said recreation coordinator Candace Bates – and yes, that’s really her last name, but she’s no relation to Norman. “They’re always excited to know what I’m going to be dressed as.”
The senior center will award a prize for best costume, she added.
Trick or treat? Children’s Corner – the preschool at 97 Hillview Ave. – will entertain and engage senior center participants in a costume parade and trick-or-treating at various times Thursday and Friday.
For more information, call 947-2797 or visit www.ci.los-altos.ca.us/recreation/senior/index.html.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1715 Grant Road, has scheduled its Pumpkin Party 3-5 p.m. Saturday. The free communitywide event will offer pumpkin carving and decorating, snacks and, of course, trick-or-treating. Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes and bring pumpkins.
For more information, call 967-4906 or visit www.praiseimmanuel.com.
Foothill Covenant Church, 1555 Oak Ave., is hosting Tots & Treats 6-8 p.m. Friday. The free event will include games, mazes, snacks, pictures and prizes for children 5 and under. Costumes are welcome.
For more information, call 967-7447 or visit www.foothillcov.org.
Bridges Community Church, 625 Magdalena Ave., has scheduled a free family fun night 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday. The evening will feature games, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, bounce houses, face painting, snacks and a photo booth.
Everyone is welcome, but no gruesome masks or scary costumes are allowed.
For more information, visit www.ConnectBCC.org/FFN.
Rancho Shopping Center
Rancho Shopping Center will be the site of Trick or Treat: Halloween Family Fun, scheduled 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Halloween and fall art created by local students (kindergarten through third grade) and art centers will be spread throughout Rancho, 696 S. Springer Road. Children, encouraged to dress in costume, can play Halloween-inspired games at the new Kids Corner and trick-or-treat at the businesses. The Rancho Merchants Association sponsors the free event.
For more information, call 941-8866 or visit www.ranchoshoppingcenter.com.
It’s back, but it’s already sold out.
For a few nights every year, the rustic innards of Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills transform into a haunted trail for youngsters, featuring ghouls, goblins and witches – not to mention its perennial animal tenants.
This year’s event should prove popular for parents and children alike, as all eight groups over two days this weekend are filled to the brim.
Be sure to jump on this one early next year to reserve a spot.
The ravens are waiting.
For more information, visit www.hiddenvilla.org.