If you want to really celebrate Halloween, try taking a trip to Anoka, Minn., a town just north of Minneapolis-St. Paul that touts itself as the "Halloween Capital of the World."
The town's claim to Halloween fame stems from efforts to keep mischievous young people in line on the holiday. In the years after World War I, many young people, including those in Anoka (pop. 18,000), enjoyed playing pranks on Halloween. But when the Anoka pranksters corralled a herd of cows down Main Street in 1919, the local merchants had seen enough. The next year, in 1920, the city started a Halloween festival believed to be the first ever in the United States. Organizers held parties and parades, giving idle hands something to do, and parents a chance to keep an eye on them. The tradition has been going strong ever since.
In her quest for decorating ideas for the ghoulish holiday, Good Morning America's gardening and lifestyle editor Rebecca Kolls visited Anoka to join the festivities and to offer her own decorating ideas. To add a ghoulish feel to your front porch, Kolls suggests two quick and easy solutions. To make an instant ghost, just throw a sheet over a lamppost. To make a quickie lit-up jack-o-lantern, cut out the back of plastic pumpkin and put it over the lamppost.
If you want to get a little fancier, follow Kolls' directions for creating a more elaborate jack-o-lantern:
X-acto knife with a jigsaw blade
Set of stencils or some leaves
To begin, remove the insides of the pumpkin. First cut off the top of the pumpkin. Then stick your hand inside to remove the seeds.
Begin tracing the pattern. Choose a stencil (or any flat flexible object that you want to trace) and position it on any side of the pumpkin. To hold the stencil in place, use some straight pins. Take a felt-tip pen and trace the stencil pattern onto the pumpkin. Once this is done, remove the straight pins and the stencil to see the pattern on the pumpkin.
Begin carving the design by using your X-acto knife. Be sure to stay within the lines. When the design is cut out, you can pop out the insides. To give the design more definition, you might want to clean up the pumpkin's edges with your X-acto knife.
To make the pumpkin last, keep it in a cool location and rub the cut edges with a bit of petroleum jelly.