Monday being Halloween, it seems only appropriate to explore the activities of past All Hallows’ Eve in Napa County. The year of 1950 featured many celebrations of this spirited holiday.

A day before Halloween, the Napa Register published an article titled, “Police Warn Against Hallowe’en Damage.” Although this headline seemed a bit negative even foreboding, at first, the majority of the article informed its readers of planned activities to celebrate the holiday.

The Register said, “Hallowe’en parades and other events are scheduled in Napa Valley communities and schools. Calistoga will have a major spook parade, sponsored by the Calistoga Lions Club, at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.”

That parade ended at the county fairgrounds where the community’s churches had charge of the food concessions. For the teens, a dance, also held at the fairgrounds, was organized by the Junior Youth Council and Calistoga High School.

According to the Oct. 30 article, “A big celebration which was scheduled for St. Helena was called off today because of the uncertain weather.” The Register published an update regarding that event. It said, “St., Helena’s on and off Hallowe’en Parade will be held tonight, according to a last-minute announcement. Hundreds of upvalley children participate in the parade annually.”

Details continued, “Napa’s major Hallowe’en kids parade was held Saturday (Oct. 28, 1950) at Fuller Park.”

Other Napa celebrations were also scheduled to showcase “the latest styles for witches, goblins, spooks and additional Hallowe’en characters (and) will be the feature of the fifth annual costume parade for the Intermediate School children tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. More than 300 children will take part in the parade around the school grounds, and the Hallowe’en fashion show is to be presented on a special outdoor stage. The public is invited to attend the program.”

Other local institutions had also gotten into the spirit of the season. The Register said, “At the Napa State Hospital several individual ward pre-Hallowe’en parties, including a gala affair for patients on the new units, have already been held and the stage is now set for the big masked, costume ball scheduled at Hoisholt Hall for tonight.

“The program will include Hallowe’en games, prizes, stunts, dancing and refreshments. The affair is under the direction of the recreation therapy department. The staff and the family members have been invited to participate in the festivities.”

In addition to those activities, the “wards have been decorated in the traditional black and orange motif with pumpkins, bats, cats and witches riding astride broomsticks, adding the eerie touch to the general decor,” reported the Register.

Numerous local establishments offered activities for the older generations of Napa County. For instance, the Uptown Theatre advertised a special Halloween show. Beginning at 11 p.m. “two truly spooky features” were viewed by the patrons. The movies were “Murder In Rue Morque” and “The Raven.” The price of admission was 70 cents for adults.

Another Halloween venue was the masked ball hosted by the Eagle Cycling Club. The festivities were held at their club house in Napa from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The proceeds were donated to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

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On Halloween, the Register published a brief, yet amusing, reminder of the occasion. “Goblins To Roam Streets Tonight. It will not be a fit night out tonight for timid souls. On again, in accord with an ancient ritual of the Druids, the spirits will roam, and in their eerie travels, work all sorts of vexations on the populace.”

The humorous alert continued, “Housewives, especially, had better be prepared with Hallowe’en confections, for doorbells throughout the city will be pressed by moist, giggling goblins bent on filling their midsections with a variety of goodies.”

The final 1950 Halloween report was an account of the evening’s activities. The Nov. 1 Register reported, “Hallowe’en, once a roaring occasion for juvenile hi-jinx in Napa, passed last night with emphasis on ‘Trick-or-Treat’ raids and a minimum of property damage, authorities said today. The evening, however, was not without its high spots.

“A squad of high school and junior college athletes were detained by local police for several hours following a brisk tomato barrage. There was good humor on both the parts of the youths and the police. And the situation at no time threatened to get out of hand. About 15 boys in all were held for a brief period.”

In review, the 1950 Napa Register concluded, “On the whole, the evening was featured by the trick-or-treat practice, with costumed youngsters punching doorbells for goodies.”

Happy Halloween!

Rebecca Yerger is a writer and historian living in Napa. Reach her at yergerenterprises@yahoo.com.

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