SMITH: Goblins, look both ways on McDonald

This Halloween, McDonald Avenue won't so closely resemble a late-night scene from Disneyland.

"It's definitely going to be low-key," said Cappie Garrett, one of the neighbors on Santa Rosa's grandest old residential street who has loved doing it up for Halloween but agrees that last year things got out of hand.

Elaborate and spooky decorations on the stately homes have for years drawn legions of trick-or-treaters. But on Halloween 2011, something of a perfect storm visited McDonald Avenue.

IT WAS BALMY, for one thing. A lovely night.

And John and Jennifer Webley celebrated the gorgeous restoration of the street's centerpiece home — Mableton, the McDonald Mansion — by transforming its front yard into Jack the Ripper's London. The PD mentioned that attraction twice just before Halloween.

Aficionados of steam punk contraptions brought several on the big night. Musicians performed in the street, and throngs of older kids and adults lingered for hours after the little ones went home.

"It got a little crazy," said resident Michael Ellis, who freely admits he contributed to the 2011 excess by doling candy and keeping his Halloween scene's music cranked up into the night.

"We're tamping it down this year," Ellis said. "I think our decorations are going to be somewhat more modest."

Neighbors have agreed to cease handing out candy between 8 and 9 p.m. And this year, nobody will borrow steel barricades from City Hall and block off several blocks to car traffic.

To do so has become too complex for residents, who resist having the city view Halloween on McDonald as an organized event like a street fair or a block party. It isn't that.

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