(Editor?s note: This is part of a series of monthly stories taking a close-up look at neighborhoods in Petaluma.)
Shortly after Denny Murray purchased a home in the D Street neighborhood, Halloween rolled around, and although his family hadn?t moved in yet, they wanted to be sure to be home to pass out candy for the kiddies.
?So, we bought a couple bags of candy,? he said.
Murray, who had been living in the peaceful serenity of Sonoma Mountain, didn?t have any clue that Halloween on D Street had developed into an event of gargantuan, carnival-like proportions.
Murray?s bags of candy were gone in a flash ? and yet the kids kept coming and coming and coming, every one expecting a tasty treat.
?We?ll never get caught in that situation again,? Murray said, laughing.
David Sherman, a brand-new resident of the 500 block of D Street, had a similar experience last year.
?We bought hundreds of dollars worth of candy, and it was gone in about 45 minutes. We were overwhelmed, but we?ll be more prepared next year. It?s expensive, but worth it,? he said.
When Jo and Donald Leroy moved to their home on the 500 block of D Street six years ago, they didn?t have any idea that they were in ?Halloween Central? until a neighbor told them. On the big day, the couple decided to set up tables in their front yard to distribute candy. They gave away one piece to each child, and by the end of the evening, had distributed 2,015 pieces!
?Ever since I can remember, Halloween has been a big thing here,? said Chris Cort, who grew up in the neighborhood in a home on the 800 block of D Street. He recalls it becoming a much bigger thing in the mid-to-late 1980s.
On Halloween, the area is known not only for the deluge of children and their accompanying parents, but also for the unique ?theme? decorations at most of the homes.
?We do a kind of Cirque du Soleil theme, with a juggler and clowns,? Cort said. ?But I?m afraid it?s too scary for the little kids and not scary enough for the bigger ones.?
Alan Sandy, who has resided on the 900 block of D Street since 1988, dresses up as Abraham Lincoln ? complete with tux, black bow tie and top hat ? as he greets trick-or-treaters and chats with passersby in front of his home.
Lawrence and Stephanie Cowell transform their home on the 900 block of D Street into ?Cavity Cove,? a pirate?s den with treasure chests, chains and vultures.
Like the D Street neighborhood itself, Halloween has the distinct feel of a mid-1900s America, when life was simpler and neighborly gestures were commonplace.
?One year, I went trick-or-treating with my grandkids. I left a big basket full of candy on the front porch, and when I came back the basket was still there and there was still candy left. The people are so polite and nice, and there is never a mess the next morning,? said Shirley Pollock, who has experienced 19 Halloweens since moving to a home on Grossland Way.
?Everybody here is very friendly, and willing to help out. It?s the kind of neighborhood you?ve always heard about,? she added.