1013 Trick or Treat Trail
Rhonna and Jonathan Phillips host a Halloween trail at their Bluff Park home each year.
Shortly after newlyweds Rhonna and Jonathan Phillips settled into their first home in Bluff Park in 1995, the trails surrounding their lot sparked an idea.
“At that time, there seemed to be this growing momentum of negativity around Halloween,” Rhonna Phillips said. “People started getting paranoid and suspicious, and I saw more and more places moving away from trick-or-treating in the traditional sense. The day was boiling down to these trunk-or-treat events, which are great, but you lose that old fashioned appeal of going to your neighbors.”
In response – and as a unique way to get acquainted with the neighborhood they still call home almost two decades later – the Phillips devised their Halloween Trick or Treat Trail. A modest affair, according to Phillips, the 1995 event was characterized by little more than a sign in their yard, a few luminaries along the property’s main 500-foot trail, and a campfire at the end where she and Jonathan handed out candy.
Phillips said that their first year garnered a great response from curious neighbors and has led, through year over year word-of-mouth promotion, to nearly 300 trail visitors.
As neighborhood interest has grown, so have standards for the trail itself.
“For about 15 years, several friends of ours have gotten involved and lent their creative talents,” she said, describing themes so elaborate – think extra-terrestrial crash site, complete with animatronics, fog machines and video projection – that the Phillips make an annual tradition out of pillaging day-of and day-after Halloween store sales to keep their stockpile fresh and plentiful.
What should visitors look for on this year’s trail? There will be many new additions, including the Phillips’ recently acquired life-sized Hannibal Lecter.
“That thing freaks me out,” she said. “I don’t even like to see it in the garage.”
Several who visited the trail as children have since come back to help stage and operate the the site. They range from tweens to late teens and add energy to the trail, running around in Zentai suits and re-creating the fun others created for them as youngsters.
“Several years ago, we had a mom stop by our house mid-afternoon on Halloween to ask if her 7-year-old could come look around at the setup in the daylight,” Phillips said. “He’d heard about us and wanted to come but was scared, and she wanted to show him it was OK. He came that night and was so into it and so excited that he wanted to be a part of it. Four years later, he still shows up, and now he helps us to man the trail.”
Phillips said it’s not uncommon for visitors to become so entranced by the trail’s themes and entertainment that what used to be the main event, filling up candy sacks to bursting, is often forgotten. Not to worry, though, trick-or-treaters, there will be plenty of candy, and much adventure, for those curious to check it out.
Editor’s Note: In the tradition of the trail’s history, location information is only via street sign in the Bluff Park neighborhood and/or word of mouth. If you can find it, prepare for fun that begins at dusk on Halloween night.