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When the Saints Come Marching In…
Annual parish-based All Saints Party banishes ghouls and restores Halloween’s original meaning.

LaFond family costumes
The LaFond family in their holy finery at the All Saints party.

November 5, 2009. Halloween is always a colorful affair at Mary Queen of Peace parish in Rogers, Minnesota. After the regular parish Mass at 5 pm, a brightly clad army of little saints comes marching down into the parish hall, ready to dive into the dozens of games set up for them by a crew of volunteers. They throw beanbags at a life-sized cardboard Goliath, toss a ring onto a dragon’s horn à la St George, play Musical Saints (prizes included), march in a parade, and eat their fill of pizza and cookies. At the end, prizes are awarded for the best costumes in several categories.

The All Saints party started out some years ago with Familia members who wanted to bring Catholic traditions to life in their family. Later, it was handed over to the parish, where it is now organized by the current Youth and Family apostolate coordinator,
St Florian costume
St Florian, a Roman soldier, won a prize for best costume.
Laura Selkin. With over 25 volunteers, including Familia members and teens who were able to earn double service hours for their Confirmation classes, this year’s party gathered over a sizeable group of children from in and outside of the parish.

It also gathered parents who were looking for an alternative to the usual ghouls and goblins.

“People look forward to it every year as an alternative to Halloween. It’s a chance to truly celebrate the joy of all saints. And of course, the kids still get to dress up,” said Robin LaFond, local Familia director and parish volunteer.

“The costumes get a little more creative every year,” she observed. “The kids are now seeking out new saints they haven’t heard of before.”

One boy did extensive research on his chosen saint—a Roman soldier named St Florian—and prepared as authentic a costume as he could. There was a Juan Diego walking around with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in his hands. A St Michael the Archangel was also there, his wings lit up with white Christmas tree lights. And a very small Noah also made an appearance, carrying an ark in his hands.

The kids weren’t the only ones who had fun. St Lawrence (Mr. LaFond) was the party emcee, wearing chains and sporting grill marks all over the front and back of his shirt and pants, as well as on his face (washable marker can do wonders). And one teacher showed up as St Francis, sporting the requisite bald spot and stuffed animals pinned all over his brown robes.

As a parting gift, each saint also took home a bag of Halloween candy.

“The kids aren’t losing out on what Halloween is all about,” said Robin. “Lately it’s become so much about death and gore. We’re trying to take it back for what it is: the Eve of All Saints.”



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