Tuesday, October 30, 2012

40 Days of Birthday: Day Thirty-Seven

We’ve had today’s activity on our calendar for months: The Botanic Garden Halloween Fun Fest! We attempted to go to this same event last year. It was one of the first times Lennon used his baby buggy. He was so displeased with it, however, we put him in the baby carrier half way enroute. With an empty carriage and a baby on my chest, Nicholas, Lennon, and I waited in line for an hour to enter the festival. We had no idea Halloween would have such interest in Berlin. We did arrive late in the day and when our friends called to woo us to dinner we aborted our mission.

Before we got going today, my husband and I went through our weekend trade-off schedule: I get up with Lennon early, around 6am, while Nicholas sleeps. At around 8pm, I get to go back to bed for an hour or so. When I awoke this morning from my sleep-in time, Lennon and Nicholas had made me breakfast in bed for Birth-Day Thirty-Seven! So very lovely.

 We came to realize late that it was day light savings time, so even though we had a leisurely morning, that extra hour still allowed us to arrive early to the Fest—minutes after opening. There was no line and we sauntered right in. The admission cost was the regular Botanical Gardens entrance fee, and of course I received my student discount. It was brisk today so perhaps that’s what kept people away. Or maybe coming early was key. In any case, it remained uncrowded.

The opening of the festival coincided with Lennon’s naptime. Lennon was cozy bundled in his “Fuß Sack” inside his stroller and, as he knows to do at 11:30, went right to sleep. Sleepy Lennon had a jack-o-lantern balloon tied to his stroller upon arrival. We first made our way to the pumpkin carving station. We reckoned most of the activities were for older kids but we thought maybe we’d get a good photo-op in for Lennon—he wore his “Jenks the Beagle” costume out today! The pumpkins were 5 euro and you paid an additional 5 euro deposit on the carving kit. We’d be carving the pumpkin we bought at the Hofladen Falkensee the night before Halloween, but it was sweet to see what the future would hold when Lennon is a bit older.

After picking up a 1 euro candied apple that, despite my husband’s reservations, was completely delicious, we headed indoors. A ghostly puppet show was to be performed in one hall but our timing was off so we headed to the “Neues Glashaus” where more of the program was taking place. It was lovely and warm inside. Nicholas and sleeping Lennon stayed on the stroller friendly first level where chairs and tables were set while I ventured upstairs to snap some photos. On the next level up, there was a “Halloween Café” selling snack bar food. Next to it, a child’s birthday party was underway with a long table and decorations. I’m not certain how they pulled this one off, but it was such a brilliant coup: have your child’s birthday party at a festival with face painting, crafts, and costumes! It made me wonder why more people didn’t think of this. How did they secure that lovely spot next to the café? Can anyone book this for a birthday? It was all too mind-boggling.

On the upper level, there were several booths selling Halloween items. Nothing extraordinary, at least not by U.S. Halloween standards, but these items were fairly exotic here. It was all typical drug store merchandise: Halloween paper plates and cups, plastic witch hats and prefab costumes. Most children came in costume to the festival today but didn’t stray from the classics: witches, ghosts, and goblins. There weren’t even any fairy princesses. Halloween is new enough to Germany that all the original rules still seem to apply.

Beyond the Halloween items, a face-painting table was teeming with children and several craft tables were set with materials. Kids were painting ceramic birds. I wasn’t sure what this activity had to do with Halloween, but none of the children seemed to object.

We continued to walk the grounds when Lennon woke up hungry and thirsty. After a quick snack we headed home, all before the clock struck 1pm and we turned into pumpkins.

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