Geek in Gear: Spice up your October with traditions

Like any other holiday, Halloween is the perfect time for traditions. It seems most everyone I talk to has at least one or two family or individual traditions for this time of year, and a few even mentioned they intended to start some new ones. The reasons vary — because it sounds fun, because they’re too old to trick-or-treat, because they don’t want to get stuck at home handing out candy to kids.

Traditions set the mood of the holiday far better than any trinket decoration. Even if you’re not a big fan of the holiday itself, traditions are a way to build and retain memories with friends and family and have a little fun on the side. Traditions make moments in your life memorable, even if they go bad. I’ve found that when talking with or to people about their holidays, it’s much more likely for them to go into long, amusing details from years past if it has to do with a yearly tradition. It’s especially fun when meeting up with old friends and family using those traditional events to bring up good memories.

Many October traditions are the textbook type — pumpkin carving with the family, wood gravestones with cryptic messages on the front lawn, costume and candy aisles in every store — while others add a little variety you can only get during Halloween month.

For example, some of my friends attend “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” event held at Peery’s Egyptian Theater near the end of every October. For those unfamiliar with this annual event, the biggest draw with it is the experience you get while watching the movie at the theater. Throughout the movie, various cues trigger the release of certain props by the audience. These props include everything from toilet paper to toast, and it all gets chucked around like awkward, simultaneous confetti. This is an event mostly for those who don’t mind an R-rating on their movies, but even then, many make an exception for a real 4-D movie experience that isn’t like what you get at the 4-D movies at Disneyland.

Speaking of movies, what’s Halloween without at least one watch-through of “Hocus Pocus”? We’ve mentioned that classic movie several times already this month, but that’s because so many people love it. I don’t know if it’s the quirky witches or the catchy song or the green zombie, but I’m excited to watch that movie every October. I mean, sure, it’s available to watch every day of the year, but there’s just something about watching it in October when the leaves are coloring up and all sorts of strange things start to happen. Maybe it’s just a bit of hocus pocus.

Other movies, of course, include your basic horror movies, ranging from the black-and-white classics to the more modern creepers, as well as the odd man out, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which many count as both a Halloween and a Christmas movie. I admit, I’m not a huge fan of it. I won’t go out of my way to watch it, but I don’t mind if someone else wants to watch it at a holiday get-together. It’s a popular film, and many look forward to watching it during their favorite holidays every year.

Then there are some really creative traditions. One of my friends goes on an annual monster hunt every Halloween. No, they aren’t actually staking vampires or shooting werewolves with silver bullets. The game starts by searching online to compile a list of the top 20-ish costumes. Then everyone is set out on the world on Halloween on an epic costume scavenger hunt. Participants find people wearing the costumes on the list and take pictures of them.

A former teacher of mine, meanwhile, turns his house into an epic haunted house. One of my neighbors does this to their yard. Kids and their chaperones come into the scare lair heavily decked out with everything from cobwebs to flashing, dark-cloaked ghouls that swoop toward you from the trees like a bat out of the underworld.

On a slightly less-Halloween note, Utah’s largest anime convention is also in October. This year, it was actually this past weekend over Fall Break. I’m not nearly as much into anime as I used to be, but my studio partner and I love selling at artist alleys, a part of the convention where artists come and sell their handcrafted wares that are practically all geek-themed in some way. The atmosphere is great, and we’ve made many friends with other artists over the years, many of whom we never see outside of the conventions. And, of course, like with any convention, there are cosplays. Lots and lots of cosplays. The people-watching is just as amazing as it is on Halloween, and you get to do it all day for three days straight, as well as dress up yourself.

There’s no better time to set a new tradition than now. Ask your friends what they get up to during this month of gorgeous fall colors, chilly weather and Halloween goodness. Maybe you’ll get an idea or two for some new traditions in your life to make some memorable memories.