I have other memories of Halloween that involve Grace Methodist Church. I don’t want it to come off like I hate Grace or any other church. I decided during Senior year of High School that church and religion is not for me. I will keep all of the opinions I have of the church to myself at the moment. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers or get into any arguments. I spent a lot of time in Youth Group as soon as I got old enough. I attended almost every fundraiser and event during my tour of duty. There were car washes, movie nights, Easter egg hunt preparations and way too much acolyte duty. At least I got to set things on fire for a while.
Anyway, as soon as I was too old to trick or treat, I spent every Halloween with the Youth Group. It sounds kind of weird now but we would all grab our sleeping bags and spend the night in the church. We wouldn’t sleep in the sanctuary itself but we would sleep in one of the multitude of sitting rooms in the maze-like structure. We watched horror movies, ate candy and pizza (not necessarily in that order) and probably drank too much soda. It was at one of these sleep overs that I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) for the first time and I remember cackling as the girls jumped and squealed. It’s easy to be brave when somebody else is terrified.
All of that was very fun and to this day I always make sure I have a scary movie or two on hand when the night of the 31st rolls around. The real attraction of a church sleepover was our game of tag. Everywhere but the sanctuary was fair game which left what I could only call a labyrinth. There were three floors at least three stairwells, two elevators and dozens of interconnected classrooms. The goal was for one person to journey into the structure and find every single person. The first one to be caught would be it the next round. Oh and we turned off every single light leaving only emergency ghost lights.
These games of tag were the most terrifying events that I have ever experienced although that may be amplified through a nostalgic lens. I remember crouching in the darkness and trying to listen out for the approach of footsteps while trying to silence the blood pumping hard through my temples and slow my breathing. The goal was to avoid the person who was it and get back to “home base” without getting caught. Eventually one of my best friends figured out that you could lie down on the floor next to the wall in the dark and remain silent to avoid detection. The person who was it would pass right by you while your heart nearly pounded its way out of your chest.
I was lucky. Our Youth Group was actually pretty secular and id a lot of things that would probably be frowned on these days. We had a lot of very spooky Halloweens engaging in Hunger Games-esque escapades and scaring the living crap out of each other. Exactly what teens should be doing on Halloween.