Fall awakens in us a ravenous hunger for dying foliage. Green leaves are nice, to be sure, but there is a part of the human psyche that demands its leaves crisp, crimson, and dead. This autumnal appetite is easily sated along the Santa Clara River where some of the native cottonwoods are just beginning to yellow. Taking in this appetizer to high fall's visual feast—and crunching some of it underfoot—is the first step to properly doing October in the SCV.
The next step in Clarita's well-delineated October protocol is purchasing pumpkins. You could get your large orange gourd from the cardboard boxes outside of supermarkets. It's not illegal. Of course, you'd better do it at 4 a.m. and be wearing large, dark sunglasses. Otherwise, you're going to lose what little street cred you had with the Claritans who do things the right way and go to Lombardi Ranch. Yes, it's a long way and yes, you're going to have to wash the Acura you bought from the Flemings after driving on that dusty Saugus road, but no, there's no way around it.
Indeed, all decent Claritans descend on the ranch en masse for pumpkins, Indian corn, and other vegetal signifiers of the change in season. If these aren't sufficient impetus for the trip, there are animals at which to marvel and scarecrow contest entries to be beheld. They're actually being judged today.
Inevitably, Moms-with-kids go completely Anne Geddes in the pumpkin patches. Tiny tots must appease their temporarily crazed parents by sitting on the largest pumpkins available until the camera batteries die of exhaustion. If you're one of these photo-happy parents, I hope you know that at least four-thousand other parents are going to put their child on the same pumpkin your child is sitting on and take more or less the same picture. But don't worry—yours really is the most adorable.
Claritans leave Lombardi's assured that rural charm is no more or less than a twenty-minute drive away—just the way we like it.
The next October obligation is a stop for costumes. In this regard, A Chorus Line Dancewear & Costumes is the most authentically Claritan option--it's the only shop owned and opped by the Newhall clan. I've seen people leaving its doors carrying everything from basic face paint to a pirate get-up to a Xena, Warrior Princess, ensemble.
Despite these and a vast array of other offerings, what the store lacks is an appropriate selection of genuinely SCV costumes. People can easily find a George Bush mask, but where are masks depicting Laurene Weste or other local politicians? There is cowboy garb, but how much of it is W.S. Hart inspired? And what does a Claritan have to do for a decent Tataviam Indian costume? As always, it's only hot laydeez who have an easy time getting a costume this time of year--all they have to do is put the adjective "sexy" in front of any occupation and they have their outfit (e.g., the sexy nurse, the sexy French maid, the sexy librarian, and the always popular sexy dental hygienist).
Given "a gang-related stabbing spree in 1985, a riot that spilled from the park to businesses in 1993 and the shooting death of a teen in the parking lot in 1998", you might think Magic Mountain was scary enough. This month, though, they throw in Fright Fest for good measure. Attending F.F. becomes an additional October duty for teenagers, but it's one they're generally pleased to carry out. After all, the emo teen of today loves the morbid, unsettling quality of Halloween almost as much as their goth predecessors.
Having marvelled at leaves, obtained pumpkins, and selected the perfect costume, one's October duties are almost entirely fulfilled. Halloween is always mandatory, whether it involves trick-or-treating or a pray-a-thon sponsored in protest of the evil night by one's congregation. But that's all still 31 days away, and I have some October obligations to fulfill. So, if you'll excuse me...
In case you didn't know, Lombardi Ranch is on Bouquet Canyon Road. Their website is here
She's the woman who takes pictures of babies in pea pod, sunflower, and other produce-related costumes for those best-selling calendars.
Reachable at 661.253.0300. They're on the corner of Cinema Drive and San Fernando/Bouquet Canyon Road.
From a July 2, 2006 LA Times article by Amanda Covarrubias and Lynn Doan: Close Magic Mountain? Residents Aren't Thrilled.
Don't worry, it's safe with all the beefed-up security and what not. Fright Fest takes place on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout October as well as the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday preceding/including Halloween.