Yeah, we built a volcano

I’ve always been fascinated by volcanoes.

Who doesn’t love a volcano? Volcanoes are cool. Earlier in the year, I got to do a volcano walk in Iceland, descending inside a volcano with my brother. It wasn’t active, but no one has been able to explain where the lava has gone. It was one of the coolest adventures I’ve had. Almost as cool as having a volcano of my own. I’m thinking about this as I stand on the verandah and admire the volcano, complete with smoke, we built for halloween.

There aren’t too many people who understand why I go to so much trouble for halloween. Most people would think it insane doing something knowing that the end result is going to leave me with a four day come down and recovery. Cup Day marked the beginning of phase two of the pack down; phase one involving a late Friday night clean-up after the party was over, deconstructing the Oracle’s bunker and restoring the Superhero Centre to a state fit for Saturday morning classes from its masquerade as a post-apocalyptic safe zone.

Three days of rest and recovery later, it was time to take another look at the fallout. The crew was on standby, itching to help with the clean up, but phase two is my time. I like to take in the peace and quiet, so different to the hive of activity it was in the final week (days, hours, minutes) of preparations, so removed from the madness of the party fun on Friday night. I like to reflect on the night that was, think about what we created with the energy and efforts of the Halloween Super Crew, and start dreaming about how to make it bigger and better next year.

I love Halloween – it’s fun and exciting and the world seems to be a friendlier and more happy place. Every year I challenge myself to make something more special and exciting than the previous year, and most years I run out of time to see all my ideas through to fruition. This year we found a crew of people in the Paragon community who understood my vision, who didn’t tell me, “No, that’s madness!” But who said instead, “Yes, that’s madness!” and then came together to bring life to my mad ideas, and to help make my dream a reality.

Halloween is all about creating an impossible experience for the kids. It’s about creating an imaginary world and showing kids they can achieve anything. It is more powerful than telling them, “Hey, you can achieve anything you want in life!” It is showing them through actions, through making those dreams a reality. I wanted to build a volcano. So we built a volcano. With lava and smoke. It was an exercise in team-work, in problem solving, and also in gravity-defying acrobatics to get it done. But get it done, we did. I wanted a battle car to rival a Mad Max post-apocalyptic movie prop, not something that the kids could look at and not touch, but something they could climb and play on safely, create their own make believe adventure and make memories they won’t forget in a lifetime. By showing them that we can build a Volcano, by building them a battle car, we not only gave the kids a magical adventure and memory, but we also showed them that anything truly is possible if you imagine it, want it, work for it, create it.

What else did we do? We had an undetonated bomb, a nuclear zone, a hazardous waste section, a zombie medical treatment room, a zombie break in section, a bunker with an oracle, an obstacle course, and games galore. Everything had a purpose and everything was designed to enhance the experience for everyone who attended.

The event was a celebration of what a team of people can achieve when rather than saying “it can’t be done” we asked “how can it be done?” The reward for so much work was clearly displayed in the smiles on all the kids faces and the excitement in their gasps. The most important part of halloween for me is creating something that is beyond entertaining. Through what we create, we are removing many of the shackles placed on children. Imagine what these kids will believe is possible!

A month on, the battle car is still drawing the attention of excited children and people passing by, while we decide what we should do with it. The volcano needs to be recycled and its materials repurposed, but I’m not in a hurry. Looking at it reminds me of all we achieved, and gives me ideas for next year. Afterall, it’s only eleven more months until Halloween.

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