By Erica Smith
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
About 50 children and adults celebrated an alternative Halloween at Saint Joseph’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Saturday evening.
The dining hall was filled with children and adults eating chili dogs, coleslaw, potato chips, popcorn, and cotton candy. Despite the festive atmosphere, a banner hanging nearby proclaimed, “Halloween is a traditional ritual which is of the Devil. Have no fellowship with the works of Darkness. Trick or Treat = Begging of Evil Spirits”
“Here we know what kind of candy you will be getting,” said Rev. Philip R. Cousin, Jr. as he addressed a group of children at the most popular attraction at the Hallelujah Carnival: the Hell Room.
Rev. Cousin pointed to a rectangular wooden box in front of the pulpit, than asked the children if they knew what it was.
The children yelled “casket” in unison, than Cousin continued, “Everyone goes in a casket, but not everyone goes to heaven. Some people might go to hell. In the next room is what we imagined hell might be like.”
The children began to squirm with anticipation
The Hell room gave two different accounts of people who had sinned throughout their lives. One person had been promiscuous, while the other had been downright criminal, thus being tormented in hell for all eternity.
The carnival had its own version of Fear Factor. The church’s version of fear factor has three rounds of grungy challenges.
“In the first round we had to close their eyes and hold something gross,” said Lauren Jones, age 9 and yearly attendee of the Hallelujah Carnival.
“I didn’t think I was going to make to the last round” said Jones. “We had to dig through coleslaw, dead bees and live mill worms for money in each of the bowls.”
The event also included more traditional carnival activities. A clown painted faces, a choir member made balloon hats and gave out stickers. In the arts and crafts center, children colored skeletons, made hats and received temporary tattoos.
Many attendees felt that the Hallelujah Carnival gave the children of the church and community a safer alternative.