Halloween revellers descend on Woodgrove

The rain failed to dampen the spirits of these children at Woodgrove last night. Many residents like Mr Jonathan Cabrera (right, in mummy costume), 36, and his wife Jennifer (dressed as Catwoman), 35, gave out treats.
The rain failed to dampen the spirits of these children at Woodgrove last night. Many residents like Mr Jonathan Cabrera (above, in mummy costume), 36, and his wife Jennifer (dressed as Catwoman), 35, gave out treats.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
The rain failed to dampen the spirits of these children at Woodgrove last night. Many residents like Mr Jonathan Cabrera (right, in mummy costume), 36, and his wife Jennifer (dressed as Catwoman), 35, gave out treats.
The rain failed to dampen the spirits of these children at Woodgrove last night. Many residents like Mr Jonathan Cabrera, 36, and his wife Jennifer, 35, gave out treats.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

Families living in estate open their doors as thousands join in American tradition here

The rain could not keep them at bay. Armed with umbrellas and pitchforks, witches' hats and masks, costumed revellers descended upon the Woodgrove landed estate last night for some Halloween trick-or-treating - a tradition that has been going on in the estate for at least a decade.

"My favourite part is the candy," said seven-year-old Soh Xuan Yi, who came dressed as a pirate. Her family and their friends had come all the way from Bukit Batok to join in the festivities.

Many of those handing out treats were families from the United States, whose children attend the nearby Singapore American School.

"It's a nice way to be able to give back to Singapore, a tradition of ours," said this year's main event coordinator Casey Shirley, 37, who has lived here for about three years. She heard that the very first Woodgrove Halloween involved just 30 families.

"It's exploded into what it is now," said Mrs Shirley, a stay-at- home mother of five.

SHARED TRADITION

It's so fun to see, and it's just neat to share an American tradition with Singapore.

MRS DEB WERNER, a mother of four, on the Woodgrove Halloween event

More than 100 families took part this year.

Mrs Angie Bennick, 42, recalled that there were already some 2,500 to 3,000 trick-or-treaters at the first Woodgrove Halloween she attended when she moved to Singapore eight years ago.

The crowd hit an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 last year.

This year's crowd was smaller due to the rain but still numbered in the thousands, based on families' estimates of the number of sweet treats handed out.

Mother of four Deb Werner, 48, said: "It's so fun to see, and it's just neat to share an American tradition with Singapore."

But the scale of Woodgrove Halloween is very different compared with festivities in her home country, she added, where children go trick-or-treating in small groups and ring each doorbell. "Here, there are so many people that I just sit in the front yard and hand out candy!"

Some families came to give rather than receive. Businessman Sam Lim, 50, drives to the estate every Halloween to distribute goodies.

"A lot of children enjoy this fun occasion and it's nice to be a part of this," he said in Mandarin, as his children doled out tidbits and trinkets from the boot of his car.

Mrs Shirley encourages visitors to chip in by taking sweets along too. "If we continue to encourage that, more and more residents will be willing to participate. It can be very expensive," she said.

Manager Ong Li Lian's four children used to be part of the Halloween night crowd.

This year, the family handed out treats instead, after moving to the estate from a nearby Housing Board flat. "It's really something different," said Madam Ong, 48. "It's nice to see the culture of the residents here."

This year's Halloween was also different for Mr Anthony Morandi's seven- and 10-year-old daughters: It was their first away from the US.

"They were so excited when we put up our decorations," said Mr Morandi, 43, who works for a pharmaceutical multinational.

Pumpkins adorned the front gate, and a large bat and spooky skeleton dangled from a tree in his garden. "This is the first real holiday we're celebrating here," he added. "Now, it feels a little more like home."

The estate's Member of Parliament Ong Teng Koon said: "It's a very interesting event and it's a good way for residents to connect. The kids from the Housing Board blocks go there and have fun."

It is also a chance for him to get to know his residents, which was particularly important in 2011, when he had just entered Parliament. Mr Ong recalled with amusement how, during that Halloween, some young Singaporeans thought he was in costume as an MP.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline 'Halloween revellers descend on Woodgrove'. Print Edition | Subscribe