Halloween in Ripon has two themes this year with the usual scary costumes and another with children dressed as religious saints from years ago from St. Francis of Assissi to St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary.
The Matt Rainer family has once again created a unique haunted house in the 200 block of Colony Road. There are grave stones and statues of the grim reaper in the front yard silhouetted by what appears to be an iron fence – really PVC pipe to fit the theme that is expected to draw some 1,000 children and parents this year alone.
“When the Saints Come Marching In” would seem to be the appropriate music when some 50 to 60 children enter St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Highway 120 for a 5 p.m. Mass Saturday evening on Oct. 31. They will be taking their places in the pews dressed as the saints of yesteryear in the church with Father Jeff Wilson overseeing the special Halloween celebration. It all started with Pastor Fr. Peter over 12 years ago and was continued by Fr. Mark who moved on to a Modesto church on Oakdale Road.
Linda Masood has been the coordinator for the event in recent years and seeing that it has the support it needs to carry on throughout the church family. She has arranged for about six piñatas to be hung in the church hall according to the different age groups so that there will be candy available.
Several years ago one 12-year-old boy had the sides of his head shaved for Halloween – leaving just a little on top – so that his costume of St. Francis Assisi would be more credible. Since there are no saints’ costumes on sale in the department stores of today, mothers have had to sit down at their sewing machines and be artistic to their children’s wants.
At the end of their church service the children and parents will be going over to the nearby church hall for their celebration that will last until about 8:30 – a curious site for travelers passing on Highway 120 seeing the parade of saints.
Matt Rainer has been developing his “haunted house” at his home for the last three years. It evolved from his Halloween presentation at their former address in Ripon. It is pretty much a year-long task that has become something of a passion away from his job as a mortgage lender. His wife Eva, graciously supports Halloween disrupting her home with their garage becoming an indoor horror chamber that the kids will walk through – with most holding their parents’ hands.
The Rainers have three children attending Colony Oak School, Brandon, 14, Caydon 10, and Chase 6. They all have had their parts in preparing the haunted house for their goblin buddies that will include a number of parents – also donning costumes.
Rainer said when the children walk through his scary transformed garage they will be blasted by ever-changing color and loud carrousel circus music. As they twist and turn in their walk through the horror chambers they will find a never ending series of surprises.
He recalled the haunted house event last year having two Ripon police cars parking across the street and keeping an eye on the children – guaranteeing that older teens would not interrupt the evening’s spirited happenings.