My three-year-old daughter has three fears that bring about instant and complete anxiety in her little body: loud noises, crowds, and costumed people.
For Molly, our town’s annual Halloween parade is her triumvirate of fears.
Arriving in advance of the crowds and the noise, we staked out a spot on the brick sidewalk from which to watch the parade. Quickly, though, the streets began to fill, as monsters, ghosts and clowns began to crowd the sidewalk to await the parade. They advanced quickly, and soon the chatter of costumed figures filled the autumn eve.
My daughter’s eyes latched on to a menacing mask lurking a few feet away, and her arms immediately reached skyward as her eyes cried out for comfort. Scooping her up, she clung for dear life, longing to be out of eye’s reach of the masked marauder.
It was just at this time that the sounds of the parade began, as the drums of high school marching bands thumped through the night. People cleared the streets, rushing toward the sidewalks to make way for the parade, and in so doing bumping and jostling the already standing crowd.
Panic in her face, we left her mother and younger brother behind and hurried across the street to watch the parade from a more distant vantage point. As the horns joined the drums of the marching band, that vantage point quickly grew further and further away until, finally, we found ourselves six stories in the sky on the roof of a parking garage a half a block away.
The roof was empty, and we perched ourselves near the wall overlooking the parade. From six stories up, my daughter loved the parade. We were away from the crowds, but being above them, somehow felt part of the crowd. Masks and costumes, once scary, were now funny and indecipherable. The thick foggy night muted the drums.
Looking around, I found we were almost in the clouds themselves – a world away. Hundreds reveled on the streets while, here in the heavens, we looked on like invisible spirits in the sky.
An appropriate way to celebrate Halloween, I suppose, high above the earth, in communion with the ghosts.