Trick or treat?

SARAH James is determined to bring a little slice of America to Queanbeyan in any way, shape or form she can.

The mother of three was disappointed to discover Australians don't celebrate Halloween so she set out to bring some festive cheer to this corner of the globe.

Ms James held a Halloween Carnival at the Schools as Community Centres playgroup on Wednesday afternoon.

The day included kids in costumes, witches hats, a beanbag toss, colouring-in sheets, face painting, bobbing for apples and a cakewalk.

Ms James has had a steep learning curve in Australian culture after moving here a year ago from Texas after her partner Peter Bedford accepted a job with Toll Shipping. They are parents to Calista, nine-years-old, Brooklyn, three-years-old and Skylynn, one-year-old.

"When I found out you guys don't celebrate Halloween, I thought 'That's un-American!' But I realised we're not in America anymore," she said. "I love being here but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that I am American.

"

Halloween is a big holiday in America and kicks off the festive season with Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrated in the following months.

"Halloween was actually a Pagan holiday, the name comes from 'All Hallows Eve' and is supposed to be a day where the dead walk among the living," she said "Instead of being a negative holiday they changed it so kids can have fun and trick or treat.

"It's just a really fun holiday."

When October 31st finally arrives, American houses are transformed into eerie, spooky castles. Complete with carved pumpkins on the doorstep, spider webs, coloured lights, fog machines, fake blood splattered on windows, tombstones and zombies littering the front garden.

"From about 4pm kids start running from door to door, there's just nothing like it. The streets are full of kids in costumes and sometimes you'll turn down a street and you can't drive anywhere, there's just so many kids," Ms James said.

"It's really fun, at the end of the night you feel really tired because you've walked and walked. You feel like your legs are going to fall off."

Ms James usually hosts a party for her family complete with a menu of spooky cupcakes, bat-shaped cookies, and appetisers of cheese with meat made to look like human flesh.

Table decorations might include spider webs all over the table, dry ice to look like plumes of smoke and food served in a witch's cauldron.

After the food is done and dusted, it's time to take the children out to trick or treat. A seasoned trick or treat-er, Ms James said there's a special method to ensure the best 

confectionery

 yield.

"The code is, if your porch light is on then you're home and you have candy but if it's off then don't bother. It usually wraps up around 8 to 9pm but sometimes there are stragglers and people are often out until midnight," she said.

"In your town you usually know where to go. The first place to hit up is the Fire Department and Police Station because they usually have good candy and once they run out, that's it.

"Then you might go to where older people live because they like to go to bed early and then you might go to the side of town you know has the best candy.

"In America they sell these bags with suck lollies in them but it's the chocolate candy that's the best. People who give out chocolate candy are the most popular."

After the kids have had their fill of trick or treating the family return home to count the lolly stash.

"The best part is taking the kids trick or treating and seeing their faces and coming back with two to three pillowcases full of candy. We pour them out to make a big mound and take a photo," she said.

"We always have bucket loads of candy, sometimes we've gone to Halloween realising we still have candy from the last Halloween."

Ms James warned that it really is trick or treat, with some houses falling victim to pranksters who egg or toilet paper their houses but she said mostly it is a fun holiday for kids.

"Halloween is part of my culture and something I enjoy so I want my girls to enjoy it too," she said.

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