Thrills and spills were aplenty as more than 2,000 churchgoers streamed into Hallow’n Land, a Halloween themed event with a wide array of activities and games on 31 October 2009. “Characters” clad in their best Halloween apparel were seen traipsing around City Harvest Church, which was well decorated with a mix of orange and black balloons and fake cobwebs for the occasion.
While it may seem like an unlikely location for a Halloween party, the organizing committee of Hallow’n Land stressed that they were not celebrating the ancient Celtic tradition where people used to disguise themselves with scary costumes to ward off spirits.
The spirit of Halloween and the meaning behind it has changed over centuries. Many still regard it as a holiday that allows people to be someone else, by wearing a fancy costume with a mask or using face paint to disguise their appearances.
“We are not celebrating Halloween, we are just using the occasion to conduct a carnival and have a fancy dress contest. Many of our members enjoy dressing up in various interesting costumes. At the same time, it is an opportunity to connect with friends who are not from the church,” said Wu Yuzhuang, the service pastor.
The fancy dress contest was held after the church service, where 14 finalists gathered to parade their elaborate costumes to a panel of judges and audience. Most of the finalists, who stayed completely in the characters of their costumes, amused the crowd with their jokes and catchphrases. One finalist, who dressed as a clown, had her face painted completely white. Another finalist came as Darth Vader, the menacing villain from Star Wars, complete with a light saber.
“I was a totally different person in my costume. It’s the first time that I’ve ever dressed up like that for any event so it was a really fun experience,” said Lim Jinyu, 19, who came as a mad scientist.
A total of 24 game booths were set up on levels 3 and 4, where the participants had to complete a game card to qualify for a lucky draw.
The games were challenging, as the people had to execute tasks such as bouncing ping pong balls into a lantern, battle each other in sumo wrestling, and catch marshmallows and apples bobbing in water.
Despite the gross factor in the forfeit for a failed attempt at a game, the booths were still popular with the crowd who were willing to give the games their best shot.
22-year-old Bernard Chua was one of the participants who failed in his attempt to get as many ping pong balls into a lantern and as a forfeit, he had to find submerged objects in a bowl of fish worms.
“It smelled so bad and it looked horrible! But it was fun. I’ve never tried anything like this before,” said Chua.
“How often do you get to wrestle with your friend? I really enjoyed myself even though I lost. It was really fun just falling over in these suits,” said Chen Zhiqiang, 29, an IT engineer, who tried his hand at sumo wrestling.
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The aim to organize a fun event to engage the members and their friends was achieved with the success of Hallow’N Land.
“Our objective was to connect with unchurched friends in a fun way and many of them really enjoyed themselves,” said Wu.
21-year-old student, Yuliana Goh, also agreed and felt that Hallow’N Land was a creative idea.
“My friends really enjoyed themselves and they found the Halloween themed party in church to be something fresh and new. It totally changed their perspective on what the church is about,” remarked Goh.