It’s November, and while many have already moved on to the next holiday, the White house in North London is still talking about Zach’s favorite holiday and the flurry of Halloween excitement this past week, especially last night!
In an effort to paint the fullest picture of the “highlight activity”, it will help to explain the on-goings of the past few weeks. First let me say that while the Brits are intrigued (to say the least) by Halloween, it is still very much an American celebrated past-time….except at Jonathan Ross’ house (the Jay Leno of the U.K.)
The first weekend of October (the 6th and 7th) Zachary was begging to start putting up Halloween decorations. Thinking that this would not have been out of the norm to start adorning the house with cobwebs and pumpkins in the States during that October Fall weekend, we pulled out the box-loads of spooky trimmings that grace the attic floor. Within minutes of hanging up the cobwebs and ghouls, we had neighbors stopping and gawking. Not only would they stop….by quite often they would look at their watches, look back at us, and say, “When is Halloween again?” 9 times out of 10 they would follow up their questioning with, “If you love Halloween this much, you will just LOVE Jonathan Ross’s house! Do you know who Joanathan Ross is?” At the time….NO….we didn’t know who Jonathan Ross was. But when I started noticing him on billboards and buses throughout London, it quickly became apparent that he was a big name in London!
Fast forward to Wednesday, October 24th–one week prior to Halloween. Still, folks continue to drive by our house, stop, take pictures, and say…”Do you know….? Before they could blurt out anything else, Zach was finishing their sentence….”Yes, I know what you’re going to ask me. Do I know Johnathan Ross?” Finally, Zach said to me, “Mom, WE HAVE GOT to go to Johnathan Ross’ house!. I have got to meet him and challenge him. ” Not wanting to discourage his confidence, I went along with his game plan. When we stopped by his house, two streets over from ours, Zach insisted on getting out of the car.
Mr. Halloween Jr. knocked at Mr. BBC’s door and no answer….He rang the doorbell and no answer…after a third time of a knock/ring combo and me trying to convince him that no one was home, the door slowly opened. There, stood a blonde haired teenager who suspiciously said, “May I help you?”
ZACH: HI!! I’M ZACH! WE’RE YOU”RE AMERICAN NEIGHBORS AND I CHALLENGE YOU TO A HALLOWEEN DUAL!
A wide smile comes across the teenage boy’s face and he says, “Hi zach. I’m Harvey. Where do you live?.” After a few minutes of conversing back and forth, Harvey reveals to Zach, “The Challenge is on!”
Whether he just thought we were just friendly naive Americans who hadn’t a clue whose house we were at, or we were simply ballsy Americans who weren’t deterred from knocking on the door of his famous TV personality dad, he greeted us with a big smile and went along with Zach’s challenge! ha
Harvey proceeded to invite us over on the 31st for an evening of Halloween spirit, courtesy of his dad footing the bill 😉 We could only imagine what was about to be revealed on Halloween night!
Dusk came upon Hampstead Garden Suburb about 4:30pm last night and Zach, adorned in his Harry potter costume was ready to hit the streets. Beforehand however, he headed over to a friends house for some pre-trick or treating festivities. Ray and I hired Zach’s regular sitter to man the house and candy bowl and the 16 year old British girl was thrilled to bring over a friend, get dolled up in their costumes, and get paid to hand out candy!!! SCHWEET!!!! This way, Ray and I could both enjoy the exhilaration of watching Zach trick or treat. After all, these precious years wont last much longer–no sense in either of us missing it!
Before hitting the streets we were given a quick run down of the rules of the neighborhood. Unlike in America, where a light on the front of the house is a green signal for trick or treating, that is not necessarily the case here in the U.K. There must be “some sort of decorations” nearby–whether it’s a pumpkin on the front step or cobwebs attached to the hedges…anything IN ADDITION to a light on the front porch. OK! Got it..
After meandering in and out of the neighborhood collecting “sweets” as they call them, we finally made it to Jonathon Ross’ house and it was UNBELIEVABLE–unlike anything we’ve ever seen or experienced on Halloween. As you will see in the pictures below, the house was literally transformed into a Haunted Castle (all done on Halloween day by a professional company called AREA 51 who started transformation at 7 am ) A manned trolley making free cotton candy for the kids all night long (In England they call Cotton Candy “Candy Floss” and so hence, you will see that the sign is called “ROSS FLOSS”) beasts, monkeys, creatures on stilts, and the paparazzi all flurried about the hundreds and hundreds of people milling about. (By the way, knowing that they are fully capable of taking a good photo, Ray asked the paparazzi to take a photo of the three of us seen below)
As we walked passed the front of the house, Zach spotted Harvey in the front door, the boy who he had met just days before…the boy who happened to be famous Jonathon Ross’ son. Zach ran up to the door and Harvey got a big smile on his face. Zach proceeded to stay, chat and work his way inside the front door. Meanwhile, Harvey invites Zachary in the front foyer of their house while Ray and I remain standing behind the security guard!) Harvey’s mom, Jane Goldman (who I later learned from Wikipedia is an English screenwriter, author, model and tv presenter) , comes down the stairs in her costume as Harvey says something to the effect of, “Mom, here’s the boy I was telling you about the other day.” She was so sweet. She came and introduced herself and gave Zach a BIG handshake, hug, and a handful of candy for his cauldron. (Ray and I and the swarms of onlookers watch Zachary–the only person at this moment personally interacting with the family, and continue to stand behind the security guard)
After about an hour or more of walking around, getting two spools of candy floss, and playing “catch me if you can” with the bloody skeleton, we proceeded to head home with some neighbor friends we ran into along the way. While Zach conceded that Mr. Ross had “won” the Halloween dual, he also proclaimed that is was one of the coolest bashes he has ever been too. Of course, the real question is “How do we get on the invitation list for the BEHIND closed doors party ?!” Meanwhile, can’t wait until what next year’s theme will bring. This time, we know what we have to do, to be real contenders in the Halloween “dual”. (I forgot to mention the Jaguar Hearse!)
P.S. Pics below the slideshow include photos of our house as well as from The American School in London’s Halloween parade. Rock on for no politically correct “Harvest festivals”!
Happy Holidays to all!
Here’s a Daily Mail news link with more pictures at our neighbor’s Halloween Extravaganza!