The Haunting of Hillcrest 2013

Three blocks and over 50 houses in the Crescent Hill Neighborhood just off Frankfort Avenue have brought National recognition to Louisville as one of the best tick-or-treating hotspots in America!

This year AOL Travel posted a list of the Top Ten Halloween Neighborhoods in America (!slide=1271688), and Hillcrest Avenue in Crescent Hill came in at number nine. Louisville is quickly starting to build a reputation as one of the country’s most Halloween obsessed cities, slowly encroaching on the spooky old guard of cities like Salem, Massachusetts and Sleepy Hollow, New York. There are already more haunted attractions, theatrical productions and Halloween events in the Ville than in any other city of comparable size in the country, and Hillcrest is helping Louisvillians revive the majesty of neighborhood trick-or-treating.

Andrew Coombs, owner and operator of the Grim Trails Haunted Attraction, has over 30 years of home haunting experience and also has a deep affection for the ritual of trick-or-treating on the evening of October 31st. “I started the Haunted Yard just a little over 30 years ago because of the Tylenol Scare of 1982,” Coombs says. “Parents all over the country became paranoid about letting their kids trick-or-treat at strangers’ houses and trick-or-treating moved to the Malls. That really bugged me. Trick-or-treating has to take place outside at night!”

Indeed, while the celebration of Halloween has grown in scope over the last 30 years in Louisville, the ritual of trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods on October 31st has shrunk to almost a footnote. Hillcrest Avenue is one Louisville neighborhood looking to restore the tradition of trick-or-treating back to its former glory.

Nearly 50 homes along the three block stretch between Frankfort Avenue and Brownsboro Road have begun an annual, friendly competition to outdo each other with elaborate yard and lights displays that frankly put some of the most elaborate seasonal Christmas light displays to shame. Fog machines pump out a moody mist, scary music plays and costumed characters wander the streets. Kids from across the Ville are welcome to make their way through the spooky displays up to the doorstep for treats on October 31st.

Being a Louisville trick-or-treating mecca hasn’t always been easy. This is a grassroots event put on by neighborhood homeowners, not a civic event. Two years ago, it looked like the whole event might be stopped by the city due to overcrowding, gridlock traffic and rowdy behavior. It began to look like the neighborhood would need more security and insurance than it could possibly afford to reign in the chaos of the 2,000 to 5,000 folks that showed up at dusk on October 31st. Some of the neighbors decided not to participate and their houses went dark on Halloween. A plea for civility was issued and last year things tamed down considerably, opening the door for a bigger and more elaborate trick-or-treat wonderland in 2013.

I took an early trip down Hillcrest this past Friday night to get a sneak peek of what would be in store for kids this Halloween, and there were already hundreds of folks walking up and down the street. All the lights and gags were up and working, and it was like walking through 50 mini haunted attractions laid out over three blocks. Themed yards include an animated Peanuts, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” yard, a Wizard of Oz yard with a Munchkin village, an Area 51 yard, a Ghouly Garden, a torture chamber, Hillcrest Cemetery, Stately Hillcrest Manor with a ghostly surprise and a yard of famous movie monsters.

The neighbors have brought their show out of their yards and all the way down to the sidewalks as spooks on strings hanging from the trees will drop down to surprise unsuspecting parents and kids. I saw a couple of really elaborate rigs that allowed ghosts to come flying down from second floor balconies all the way down to come face-to-face with kids seeking candy.

If you plan on trick-or-treating on Hillcrest Thursday night, please bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to donate at marked locations on each block. Trick-or-treating hours this year are from 5PM until 9PM. If you come, be prepared for crowds, traffic and parking issues during peak hours.

No matter where you go or how you plan to spend your Halloween night, be safe and have fun! From all of us at Louisville Halloween, have a glorious and ghoulish Halloween!

The Phantom of The Ville

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