ALAMEDA -- The Island's "spooktacular" Haunt Your House contest and tour are back for the seventh year.
Residents are encouraged to get into the spirit of Halloween, decorate their homes for the contest and collect nonperishable food for the Alameda Food Bank.
"Halloween is always a really special time in Alameda, which I felt when I was growing up here," said Patti Cary, event organizer and Boo Crew member. "Everyone really likes to do it up for Halloween and the contest is meant to encourage folks to decorate and appreciate the uniqueness of the Alameda community and its architecture."
To join the contest, community members just need to send their address and the title of their decorated home by midnight Sunday to email@example.com. The haunted house should be ready for public viewing by 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Also, entries must have a box or container for donated food items, and at least 12 items should be collected to qualify for prizes.
There are six entries so far, with names like Grave Expectations, House of Horrors and Wicked Harvest. They're located at 1816 Alameda Ave., 915 Broadway, 908 Lincoln Ave., 1056 San Antonio Ave., 847 Santa Clara Ave., and 2837 Windsor Drive.
"We usually get up to 15 homes for the tour, with lots of last-minute entries," Cary said. "It's a nice mix and, in the past, has included homes on West and East ends, as well as on Bay Farm and Alameda Point."
Over the past seven years, more than 3,000 pounds of food items have been collected during the Haunt Your House tour, she said. And this year, the Boo Crew hopes to gather at least 1,200 pounds for the Alameda Food Bank.
The food bank said that cans of stew, chili, tuna, corn and fruit are needed, along with packages of rice. Volunteers also are required to help distribute holiday contributions in November and December. (Call 510-523-5850 or go to alamedafoodbank.org.)
To support the food drive and get community members out and about, BikeWalk Alameda organizes a bike tour of Haunt Your House.
"We've had up to 200 folks on bikes, and it creates a really fun atmosphere as everyone tours around town," Cary said.
The Haunt Your House ride has been very successful since BikeWalk Alameda began the ride a few years ago, according to Lucy Gigle, a group volunteer.
"Kids love the scary houses and the hot apple cider, and I think that parents love to be out in the evening with their kids and others enjoying our lovely quiet neighborhoods," Gigli explained.
On Tuesday, the group is encouraging walkers to get out and enjoy the fun.
"We have a 'stride' portion, also, that will go with the new 'walk' in our name," she said. "It will be a walk along some of the wonderfully decorated houses in the Franklin Park neighborhood."
The decorated homes are eligible for several awards, like Most Haunted House, Most Original and Most Canned Goods Collected. They are judged by former contest winners, teachers and other community members, and the winning homes receive trophies and gift certificates from local merchants.
"The front of the homes don't have to be very frightening," since the group wants kids to have a fun evening, Cary said.
"They just have to be creative and a bit out-of-the-box," Cary said. She said, as an example, one of last year's winners was a home with a front porch decorated like a cartoon mouse.
"It's not too late to enter and join in the fun," Cary said. "We enjoy putting on the contest, so we can reward and acknowledge those who really like to do it up for Halloween."
What: Seventh annual Haunt Your House tour
When: 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday
Where: See entries at www.alamedahaunts.com
Cost: Free; canned food and other donations accepted