A Halloween shindig

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A weird metamorphosis occurs in the 400 block of South Lee Street every Halloween, with children in costumes gathering and residents dressing up for a party that just happens, with no previous planning.

There is no head honcho, no set time, and no catalyst except all hallows eve, and its been going on for more than 30 years, residents say. Its one time in the year when Anne Monahan can proudly say, I make a pretty good witch. She moved in about 30 years ago and noticed that the gala just sort of happens.

We dont issue an invitation, people just come, she said. Year after year, it kind of grew, added Monahan, remembering last year when a limo pulled up and at least 15 kids got out, she said.

Monahans neighbor, Christie Olson, estimated there were 750 children who came in from all over the City of Alexandria. Its huge, she added.

Another neighbor, Bill Murphy, dyes his hair black and sports a Dracula cape, even talking in the funny Dracula voice of the late night horror show hour. Its one of the highlights to living here, he said. Some residents, who have houses elsewhere in the country fly back for the party.

The party got so big Monahan is passing around a petition this year to get the city to close the street for a few hours that night. Its dark and the children dont stay on the sidewalks, plus the citys project to put all the telephone lines underground is occurring on Lee over the last few weeks, so Monahan thought that closing the streets wouldnt hurt.

Kids dash into the streets, she added. Murphy is helping out with the petition and so far, hes gotten pretty good response. It would be much safer with the streets blocked, he said.

The party has even turned into a selling point for real estate agents with listings on Lee Street. According to Diann Hicks, who lives in Yates Gardens a few blocks away and works at Weichert in Old Town, people enjoy the fun it brings, she said. Last Sunday, Hicks had an open house at a listing on South Lee Street and, I did mention to several people to come back to Lee on Halloween, she said.

Although the party is centered around the 400 block of South Lee Street, it is starting to branch out, said Lindsay Holaday, who moved in two years ago with no knowledge of the party. It was a real experience to come into it the first time, I wasnt prepared, she said. Holaday hasnt heard of the petition, but would be happy to sign that, she said.

Last year, Holaday saw other party preparations on Fairfax Street, parallel to Lee, and there are reports that the party continues to migrate to the 300 block of Lee also. The 500 block has the park on one side of the street, so there arent as many people in that area. Its fun to watch the little kids, said Monahan, secretly revealing that its also fun to join them in costume, too.

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