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trick or treaters Oakland elementary school students knocked on the doors of Davidson Hall residents in search of treats. (BAP photos)

Snowboarders do tricks, kids get treats on Halloween Eve

– Halloween came a night early for about 200 children and the denizens of UC Berkeley's residence halls. Superheroes, pajama-clad babies, disco queens and one tiny bumblebee dragged bags of sweets from dorm room to dorm room as part of All Hall-O-Ween, a special event put on by the Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) for the students of Oakland's Markham Elementary school and their older and younger siblings.

"They give good candy here," said Sunday Bejide, 13, dressed as a basketball star - which is what he wants to be when he grows up, or else a sports reporter. "Very good candy."

 face painting
Trinelle Graves (blue pajamas) gets a little facial decoration from a Griffiths Hall resident.

Five crowded buses carrying trick-or-treaters, parents, and teachers pulled up to assorted residence halls around campus on Thursday evening, October 30. Waiting to shepherd their group of kids through Unit 2's Davidson Hall were Cal students dressed as a ninja, a belly dancer, a butterfly, and monsters. This is the fourth year RHA staffers have put on the event, dispensing bags of candy to participating students - 86 rooms in Davidson alone - coordinating the buses and organizing signs for participants to put up on their doors. (One poster promoting the event said, "Your job: Pass out candy, don't steal all of it!") The treats were purchased with hall funds, and the Cal Dining department also donated enough to horrify dentists.

For the Berkeley students, many away from home for the first Halloween, it was a chance to remember their own trick-or-treating days without leaving their rooms - and without giving up social activities for the actual Halloween night. "It's the cutest thing in the world," said first-year student Kevin Stein, vice president of the Davidson Hall association. "We love seeing the costumes, but more importantly, a lot of these kids can't trick or treat in their own neighborhoods. We wanted to give them the chance to have some safe fun, like we had when growing up."

trick or treater Kennedy Knox
The tiniest trick-or-treater, Kennedy Knox, drags her bag of loot.
That's exactly what drew the parents tagging along with the Markham Elementary kids. Kyra Knox of Vallejo, who is the mother of Sunday and 3-year-old Kennedy Knox - the toddling bumblebee who elicited the most cries of "Awwww!" - says that while she's not a fan of Halloween, she hated to take it away from her kids. "This way, they can do it without me worrying about their safety."

Knox also likes exposing her son to university life. "He's at that age where I want him to be thinking about college," she said. "Here, he gets to see young people living by themselves, no parents, having fun he doesn't think about them having to study, but that's OK for now."

For Markham fourth-grade teacher Patricia Nunley, there's the added attraction that "since it's the day before Halloween, I don't have to wonder what's happening to my house while I'm gone." Nunley says that the program is so popular that kids who have graduated from Markham often come back and beg to be allowed to join their trick-or-treating younger siblings on the Berkeley trip. They're allowed, as long as they're not too old. There's no costume requirement, she says: "All the kids do their best to find something to wear."

After making the rounds of participating Davidson rooms from the 8th floor on down, the group of trick-or-treaters dragged their bags of loot over to Griffiths Hall lounge. There, residents had pushed aside the Foosball table and pianos to stage a haunted house complete with face-painting, cookie-decorating, pin the tail on Frankenstein, swamp fishing, and ghost stories told by the scary "decapitated" head of a witch. "Thriller" and "Ghost Buster" blasted from a boom box loud enough to ruffle the many strands of fake cobwebs. The Foothill residence halls were also putting on a haunted house, and other dorms were staging games - perhaps in the hopes of winning the Xbox game system that the RHA will give away to the hall that made the most effort.

Snowboarders attempted 180's and other spine-chilling tricks on the snow-covered steps of McLaughlin Hall.

Meanwhile, it was more like X Games time on the steps outside McLaughlin Hall, on the College of Engineering campus. In the spirit of Halloween Eve, the Cal Ski and Snowboard Club put on an event that was truly frightening. The club built a plywood ramp over the four flights of brick stairs leading from Memorial Glade up to McLaughlin Hall and covered it with "snow" from bags of crushed ice. Then, as about 200 onlookers cheered nervously and Guns 'N' Roses played over the PA system, some death-defying snowboarders and a few skiers launched themselves from the top. They hurtled down the narrow ramp, leapt onto the steel railing, twisted and turned in the air, and (very occasionally) landed upright on the snow-covered bottom of the run.

Most landings were more of the splatter variety, but everyone somehow avoided the naked brick section of the run. The event was intended to promote the South Shore Soldiers ski and snowboard camp held annually near Lake Tahoe. The participants, it should be noted, were professionals - not that any of the gasping audience seemed eager to strap on boards and try their own luck.

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