The U.S. Consulate’s Halloween Event for the Chinese Public: A Smashing Success!

It’s been 3 days since returning to Luzhou after last week’s Halloween frolic at the U.S. Consulate. And what a frolic it was!

Due to the excellent advertising of the Consulate staff, the usual 40 turn-out ended up being more than 200!

When I arrived early at 1:15, the line was close to 30 waiting to pass through security at the appointed entry time, 1:30. The process is to send everyone to the Consulate library, open daily for the public, where the audience members congregate until escorted to the lecture site. For our purposes, the lecture site was our Halloween assembly tent in the courtyard.

At 1:45, our eager participants were allowed to come to the tent. It was then that Tom Hoaglund, the director of all these amazing events, scurried over my direction to announce that the line was clear around the block. He had already been outside to inform those waiting that we were full. The Consulate has only 200 visitor security tags. Once those are gone, that’s it. No more entries.

Despite his apologies and pleas for everyone outside to go home, no one would. They continued to wait hopefully, even more arriving in the distance to que up.

Tom reported of one small group of college students, pleading to him in dismay, “How can we not go in? We have traveled over 3 hours to get here! What can we do?”

Obviously, they should have come earlier.

My guess is that we most likely had another 200 outside waiting, maybe even more. Bet those walking by were wondering what in the world was going on inside the US Consulate in Chengdu .

The Event Itself

There were only 100 chairs available under our tent with no more to spare so many had to stand. It didn’t dampen their enthusiastic spirit, however. In fact, the ones standing had better ability to hightail it to the snack table (pretzel bags, orange drinks and cookies), which disappeared in a matter of seconds, after we finally announced everyone could enjoy the activities.

The Trick-or-Treat corner likewise had everyone scrambling to snatch up their festive Halloween bags for their “Trick-or-Treat!” experience. Only 120 had been ordered from the Internet, with the staff thinking that would be enough. You can imagine how that went over with our visitors. Such a limited number made for quite the panicked snatch-and-grab with many coming up empty handed.

Tom and Li Tao (another on the Consulate staff) were in charge of placing handfuls of candy into each person’s outstretched bag. The one mistake these two made was to place a heap of American candy varieties on the table. These were Snickers, Nestle bars, tootsie rolls and Halloween decorated foiled chocolates. The two assumed every Chinese would sparingly take one or two and leave the rest for others behind.

I could have told them that was a bad idea. Self-serve refreshments are not something the Chinese are used to. And when it comes to novelty items, rarely to be found in China, watch out!

“You should have seen them!” an astonished Tom told me later. “Two adults just took their arms and scooped the entire load of Halloween chocolates directly from the table into their bags. No one else had a chance to have any.”

The same went for the other beautifully displayed snack area , where instead of taking one bag of pretzels, each person hoarded as many as they could for their own use. And instead of pouring drinks into paper cups for everyone to share, those who reached the table first grabbed and stuffed the entire bottles into their coat pockets and bags.

In other words, it didn’t take long to clear out the goodie sections.

Mask Making and Costume Wearing a Hit

Once the food had completely disappeared, people began concentrating on the more tactile Halloween activities. Mask making and costume wearing became the next focal point. These kept everyone busy, using their creativity to draw colorful faces of monsters, cats and ghosts or mixing and matching wigs with costume clothes available to try on.

Mostly, our crowd contained college students and interested adults. Some didn’t speak any English but had come due to curiosity. We did have 5 children: 2 in primary school and 3 toddlers. Their parents made sure they were right up there in the front lines for everything, including the candy give-away.

By 4 p.m., everyone had pretty much cleared out and gone home. The Consulate staff and I cleaned up, with me making sure I had all my Halloween things accounted for. I almost lost my costumes to the Chinese who thought that they were for free and could be taken home. Yikes! I cleared up that misunderstanding in a hurry.

Despite aching muscles from dragging an overweight, stuffed-with-Halloween suitcase around, not to mention almost losing my stellar Halloween costumes to our guests, it was a great afternoon. Definitely well worth the trip, mostly due to all our US Consulate’s help in making the event so spectacular.

My Power Point Presentation On-line

If you’re interested in seeing the power point presentation, which includes a few pictures of my Luzhou 3rd years Halloween activity night for the freshmen, these are posted on my Microsoft OneDrive. Click on the heading below Connie’s Space that says “Past Pictures Posted.” Go to that site. Scroll down through all the photo albums until you see the Halloween power point presentation. The hand-out has also been uploaded that was given to the participants for take-home.

In Closing

Back in Luzhou, it’s time to begin my Thanksgiving Day lessons. We’ll be doing those for the next two weeks before Christmas enters the classroom scene.

For Christmas, aside from freshmen visits to my overly decorated home, I’m thinking that the 3rd years should prepare a couple of classroom activity rooms for another night time holiday gathering. Christmas tree decorating and card making are at the top of my list, as well as pictures with Santa Claus. Should be another fun sharing time for all of us.

Until next time, here’s wishing you Ping An for your first week in November.


About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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1 Response to The U.S. Consulate’s Halloween Event for the Chinese Public: A Smashing Success!

  1. Sharon White says:

    Oh my, what a hectic Halloween!

    Sent from my iPad


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