Boo to You: Halloween Down South

IMG_3337Autumn comes late to Alabama and I truly enjoyed being able to be outdoors for most of October and November, hiking in 70F temperatures. I also enjoyed the change of seasons in what seemed like a slow motion picture. Halloween and even Thanksgiving were festivities that seemed in no way connected to temperatures or seasons anymore.

Talking about Halloween and Thanksgiving… Like every year, I had to have a pumpkin. On a sunny autumn day I went with friends to a pumpkin field about an hour north of Birmingham. Little did I know what it entailed. Upon arrival at the farm one had to go on a ride for another 20 minutes, and suddenly I found myself in a “real” pumpkin field. Pumpkins were everywhere, plus there was a cotton field and a beautiful sunflower field. At first the photographer inside of me went ballistic and I was content shooting pictures of flowers, cotton, and pumpkins. At some point, however, I realized that I was not alone out there and every step I took became a prayer: “Please don’t let me come anywhere near a snake.” It was a futile exercise. While I did find my perfect pumpkin, I also encountered my first snake in Alabama.  I did not scream; as a matter of fact, I was speechless, frozen in fear, and I vowed never to insist on pumpkin picking again.

Halloween Down South

HalloweenBack home I started preparing for my first Halloween Down South. I missed my New York Witch Hazel and the amazing over-the-top Halloween party at Sandra’s house, but I did my best to bring the spirit of the holiday to my new home. I cooked up a storm and decorated to the max.

And, yes, there was an after-party at “Das Haus,” and all I can say is that I went for it, costume and all. I love Halloween and welcome any occasion to dress up. A return to the pumpkin field for the 2015 edition, however, is questionable.



The Magic of RunDisney

The Magic of RunDisney

Running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is a special treat for all runners

Running a 10K is exhilarating, but running through a Disney theme park is an experience. When I ran my first runDisney race, a 5K earlier this year at Walt Disney World, I knew that I wanted more.  I signed up for double the distance, committing to the 10K race at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in Anaheim and started planning my trip.

Things didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, though; after fighting the heat wave in New York, I really did hit the wall when a sudden gallbladder removal literally stopped me in my tracks. I did not do too well on the limited dining plan at Lenox Hill Hospital, but I was determined to run again as soon as possible. Three weeks later, I packed my Merida costume, wig, and crown and flew to Los Angeles.

The Magic of RunDisney

Running through Disney’s California Adventure

A day before the race, I went to a runDisney MeetUp and got lots of tips from Jeff Galloway, the 1972 US Olympic Team runner and official runDisney training consultant. Tara Gidius, the Diet Diva, provided great nutritional guidance, and our group got to meet with ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone and Sean Astin of Hobbit fame.

The Magic of RunDisney

Runners meet Alice and Mad Hatter at Mile 5

The big day had finally come! My son and future daughter-in-law joined the many spectators who cheered on the runners along the way and promised they would be waiting for me at the finish line. The course winding through Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure was a lot of fun. Everywhere we were greeted by cast members, and even Alice, Mad Hatter, and the Rabbit came out for photo opportunities. In the parks, all the rides were running, creating a festive atmosphere. In the backlot areas we even got to get a sneak preview of a float soon to be used in the Halloween parade.

The Magic of RunDisney

Halloween Float sneak preview

At the second mile marker, I decided that it would be best to take off my Merida wig. It was close to 90F and all runners were grateful for the water distributed at several stations along the way. The next 4 miles flew by and it was wonderful being greeted by my family at the finish line. For a full report on the race and the preparations leading up to it, read my article for UndercoverTourist here.

The Magic of RunDisney

One happy princess just crossed the Finish Line

Right now I am back on my training schedule, preparing for the next adventure, the 10 miler Tower of Terror race at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in October. I am excited and I see a half marathon in my future. The runDisney races are extremely popular; while I have a bib for another 10K, I was unable to secure a half marathon bib for the Princess Half at Epcot in February 2014.

For the longer races, I will work on a more modern version of my Merida costume and the wig will have to be adapted too. In the meantime, I will be planing my next Disney vacation. In October I will be staying at Disney’s All Star Music Resort, and I bought park hopper tickets from UndercoverTourist. If you are looking for a great deal, fabulous service, free shipping, no hidden fees, and a generous refund policy, then search no farther. I have used the company many times over the past years, always to my entire satisfaction. As a matter of fact, we recommend them without hesitation in our guidebook. UndercoverTourist also sells tickets for Universal, SeaWorld, LegoLand, GatorLand, and various dinner shows.

About runDisney: In Orlando the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna takes place in January, followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, Expedition Everest Challenge in May, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November. Disneyland hosts the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend in January and the Disneyland Half Marathon in September during Labor Day Weekend. More than 125,000 running enthusiasts participate in runDisney events each year. For more information, visit