Monday, November 1, 2010

Culture: Halloween in Roundhouse Park

The steam-powered miniature train at the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre in Toronto, Ontario prepared to leave Don Station past a giant pumpkin on Halloween, 31-October-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Amongst the changing social expectations of suburbia in the 1990's, it was possible to put out a Jack o'Lantern and even decorate one's house and still have few or no local trick-or-treaters stop by, in particular if the weather was unseasonably cold or wet. On the other hand, one could simply leave the porch light on and get dozens of costumed youngsters. Therefore, it was not entirely predictable how many children would come to Roundhouse Park in Toronto, Ontario for a scary, after-dark train ride and treats.

The windows of Don Station in Toronto, Ontario were decorated with scary Halloween imagery on 31-October-2010

The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre was not going to be caught unprepared. Volunteer Bob Dickson led an extensive decoration of Roundhouse Park with holiday decorations. Halloween-themed music videos played inside Don Station, pumpkins of various sizes appeared along the tracks of the miniature railway, and a graveyard suddenly appeared in a desolate portion of the park.

A dancing skeleton entertained a child at Don Station in Toronto, Ontario on Halloween, 31-October-2010

For a day that started with snow showers, visitors to the park provided a reasonable stream of business for the miniature railway. A few came in costume and enjoyed the displays around the station, including a dancing skeleton that sang Halloween-themed music whenever anyone passed nearby.

A diesel-powered miniature railway train ran through the "graveyard" in Roundhouse Park set up for Halloween on 31-October-2010

The steam engine came out for the evening in the late afternoon, with cool temperatures allowing it to more visibly emit steam through the park. A few more children arrived in costume around dinnertime. When darkness came, though, the flow had stopped. This would be one of those nights without trick-or-treaters.

The miniature railway train sat amongst the ghosts and goblins in the graveyard of Roundhouse Park in Toronto, Ontario on 31-October-2010.

So, the gathered volunteers went to a backup plan--turning the evening into a night photo session. The steam train was posed amongst the various Halloween displays and in front of the light show put on by the CN Tower, with special attention paid to the graveyard.

The miniature railway train itself looked like a translucent ghost, as a timed exposure captured its departure from Don Station in Toronto, Ontario on 31-October-2010

Next year, with more publicity and likely a different plan, the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre will probably be again prepared for Halloween. For more coverage of this year, watch the TRHA web site.

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