Some of the best traditions in anyone's life -- no matter how dear and loved all by themselves -- are amplified when seen through the eyes of someone joining the tradition for the first time.
Isn't that why Christmas with a new baby is so much MORE special? And, bar and bat mitzvahs, first days of school?
This was the seventh Monster Bash season I've seen in German Village. I don't have any special affinity for Halloween outside of the Monster Bash, but I adore Monster Bash.
Ten or 12 neighbors open their homes, their driveways, their yards to invite in complete strangers. But in the tradition of all things German Village, there are no strangers -- only friends whose names you have not yet learned.
Seeing the event for the first time again, through the eyes of my colleague and staff lead on the event, Nancy Kotting, reminded me why it is so charming as an annual tradition.
First, come the chairmen and the committee. Jim and Sarah Penikas have been volunteering for Monster Bash for years, and this year all the way back before the calendar turned on 2016, they said they would serve as chairmen.
To fill their committee, they turned, first, to similarly long-serving Monster Bash leaders, Ryan and Heather Bone. This year, Ryan and Heather included their own new helper -- son, Ewan -- in all but night-of volunteering.
Beth Burson returned, along with Marceline Dyer, Natalie Brehm and John Barry.
Together, they whipped Nancy into shape quickly with their collected knowledge, pursuit of excellence and unrelenting creativity and energy.
By July, they were rounding up hosts for the trick-or-treat stops -- and here again, it was a fantastic mix of people brand-new to German Village and people who have seen all dozen of the Monster Bashes.
Ed and Barb Elberfeld and Jim Plunkett and Jill D'Antignac took their yearslong tradition of winning the group costume contest and put on two fantastic host stops, each topping the other for gory, dark and utterly memorable.
Chris Hune, an inventor of Monster Bash, was across the fence and down the street helping Denny Valot and Bruce Meyer create a Midnight in the Garden Of Good and Evil-themed stop.
Brian and Crystal Santin (Brian, once president of the German Village Society board of trustees) put the Urban Ranch up as a Funny Farm.
And then here comes Doug Preisse -- longtime neighbor and owner of the property that was once Bierberg Bakery. Doug called Nancy on the Monday before the Bash and asked if it was too late to create a haunted cookie shop as a stop.
Nancy said, "Heck no," and Doug put together a contest-winning stop on Fifth Street.
The evening was about 380 guests strong with 25 people volunteering to help set-up, clean up or take tickets.
They were each the most content and joyous group you could get, especially for an event celebrating the macabre.
Nancy locked out the final clean-up volunteers Oct. 15 and headed home for some well-deserved rest, she told me: "I've never seen so many people having so much fun in my life. That was awesome."
It truly is. It is just one more example of how German Village has remained such a strong community generation after generation.
It attracts the kind of people that roll up their sleeves, put on their thinking caps and then have the best time imaginable in pursuit of a good cause.
German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column .