Enthusiasm for annual traditions live on

CANASERAGA — Look for goblins and witches and ghouls, oh my, at virtually every Southern Tier school later this month.

Seasonal signs are obvious: Maples leaves are turning scarlet and russet and gold and pumpkin purveyors are punctuating porches bright orange.

Neighbors grin at each other and happily spout “This is my favorite time of the year,” aware of but ignoring the meteorology that within 90 days will send bitter winds sculpting snow drifts across roads and hills.

But until the weather becomes colder than a witch’s heart, school students are eager for fissures in the steady diet of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. No students look forward to the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve more enthusiastically than those at Canaseraga Central

Stephen Kenyon has observed the Canaseraga Central autumnal festivity man and boy from the school’s halls since the early 1960s. Kenyon has witnessed festival sponsorship shifts from school to fire department to ACCORD classes; family participation changed as new generations enjoyed the happy ritual of costumes and ear-splitting shrieks of faux-frightened students.

Kenyon, who is in charge of school grounds and maintenance; school Administrative Secretary Tina Karnes and Principal Shannon Gilbert reminisced in the second-floor library hallway one evening last week while school board members met in executive session. The celebration “is always fun,” the principal said, as she described parading families and costumed kids in eager excitement on Halloween evening.

Proclaiming the ageless axiom “Don‘t run in the hallways!” is Gilbert’s responsibility, even if the structure is renamed the “Haunted Hallway“ for an afternoon.

The darkened hallway usually seems like a training ground for apprentice Edgar Allen Poes or Bram Stokers, author of Count Dracula novels. Or maybe undergraduates at the Walking Dead Drama School and Alice Cooper Reenactor classes.

This year the film Goosebumps, based on the popular best-selling books, might

inspire such refreshments as Zombie Brains, Graveyard Jars and Bubbling Witches Potions. The motion picture promotional catchphrase “Something spooky crawls into theaters” is a hint that the cast could trick-or-treat in the Canaseraga Haunted Hallway.

Sentences from Gilbert, Karnes and Kenyon tripped over each other as the trio blissfully reminisced about the ritual from previous Octobers: “I spend half the time (during the school celebration) with my fingers muffling my ears to the squeals,” Gilbert said.

On Oct. 31, the hallway where the school officials stood “is dark and kids are happily ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ excitedly at costumes in almost sensory overloads as parents, faculty and community residents enjoy happy responses to the displays,” Karnes said.

The ritual has generated “the same excitement since I started school here,” said Kenyon who graduated from the school in 1973.

ACCORD Canaseraga Central site Manager Katherine Lefler said “more than 300 kids and parents” usually participate, frequently at full volume.

“You can’t be understated about Halloween fun,” Lefler said.

Even activities that involved sitting and remaining fairly quiet such as face painting, mask making and pumpkin decorating inspires enthusiastic laughter that echoes in the cafeteria and old campus gym, she said.

Another ritual of the celebration: generous sponsors, Lefler said. Among supporters this year are Mastin’s Super Market, 7-11, Canaseraga Pizza Corner, Lioness Club, Kathy’s Corner Café, Nunda Family Pharmacy and Wilson Beef Farms.

She gave a special thanks to the New York State Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association, “the main contributors donating the majority of food and materials to the event this year.

“Worth mentioning are the chili/soup cook off and pumpkin bake off competitions and the senior class who are providing the Haunted Hallway,” Lefler said.

Dozens of anonymous volunteers ranging from school faulty and staff to members of the School Teen Advisory Board devout hours preparing for and coordinating the event, she said.

The celebration continues from 3 to 5 p.m. on Halloween, Saturday, Oct, 31.

Imagine a loud raspy “BOO” or the laughter of Vincent Price scaring more delighted kid in the Haunted Hallway.

Almost makes you wish you were a kid again, only this time in Canaseraga on Halloween.