For one night only, the Lost Moon Saloon was open Sunday in Oro Valley. Patrons in western garb moved through the swinging doors, past dried animal skulls, bales of straw, a saddle, corn stalks, old cowboy boots and a rusty wagon wheel.
The saloon, at the corner of Lost Moon Court and Mountain Breeze just south of Naranja, sits at the foot of Guy and Pam Hamer's driveway. Their home is lined in orange lights with a Christmas-like intensity, accented by white-lighted jack-o-lanterns and, on the front yard, the pumpkin-headed Hazel the Witch. Hazel sang "Monster Mash," the 1962 hit by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers. While the Crypt Kickers croon – "Monster Mash, wah ooooh" — Hazel's head and heart alight in synchronization with the music. The choreography is the computerized brainchild of Brian Lincoln, who shows off the technology and shares how it was done.
Hazel tells jokes, too. What's the difference between a cat and a frog? A cat has nine lives; a frog croaks every night.
Every year, Lost Moon Court and its surrounding neighborhood celebrate Halloween. It all began 10 years ago with four mischief-makers, the Hamers and Mark and Annette Grisham, and it's become a broader, bigger affair that draws trick-or-treaters – and plenty of adults – to see it.
Pam Hamer had several motivators to party, among them a desire that her canines not freak out every Halloween.
"I didn't want this many people to ring my door bell, because my dogs bark," she said. "It was four of us, then eight of us. Then it was more of a theme party."
Each fall, there's a get-together on the block, a pre-Halloween party where "we hash out the theme," Annette said. Pros and cons are scratched on paper. A decision is made, then action taken. "This just gets done," Annette said, scanning the Lost Moon Saloon. "They build stuff in our garage."
Last year, everyone was a famous jailbird, Martha Stewart, Bonnie and Clyde, Leona Helmsley, Bernie Madoff or Patty Hearst. One year, hippies, another, the Village People. Years ago, the Addams Family. Or was it the Munsters? Annette sings the melody to pique her memory.
"Isn't it awesome?" Annette asks, surveying the scene.
It is, and hundreds concur with their attendance. They come from all over to trick or treat on a street with no traffic. Parked vehicles line both sides of nearby Naranja. "We run out of candy every year," Annette said. It happened again Sunday night. Marita Hufnagl handed out treats from an enormous bowl to costumed children, more than 500 by unofficial count. By 8 p.m., it was all gone.
Most people on the block invite family and friends to come by, and they do. A father, Andrew Dobbins, dressed as a woman (with bulging biceps, his beaming wife points out), props his beautiful daughter Aria, 2, on a hay bale, then crouches to shoot her picture. Lori Edwards, who comes every year, bribes her pooches Riley and Andi, dressed in skeleton costumes, onto the hay bale for a picture. Each year, "it's a highlight," she says.
"Every year, it's better than ever," said Karen Knight, enjoying a libation. "It's for the old and the young. It's just fabulous."
"It's absolutely fun," Guy Hamer said. "Other than Christmas, it's one of our biggest times of the year. This is a neighborhood effort."
Looking ahead, Pam Hamer wants to ask people to bring a canned good for a food bank. "We really need to do that," she said.
They'll keep gong. Each Halloween, Lost Moon Court is "a safe place," Pam said. "It's a way for the neighborhood to get involved." And, she allows, "I absolutely love to throw a party. It's my soul, to entertain. Why not? Why not?"
"We're absolutely crazy," Annette Grisham said. "We love it. It's such a great community. We love our community."