By Aimee Robinette
Photography by Rory Doyle
FOR SEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING, the Cleveland Country Club has made Halloween night a signature event for its littlest members. Families don their scariest and cutest costumes and climb aboard decorated golf carts to trick or treat at the houses that are nestled along the course. Families have found that it is easier to get in and out of a golf cart, and it’s safer for children to run around without worrying about traffic in town. With as many as sixty families participating, there is plenty of socializing for all ages.
It all started when Cindy and Allan Grittman were settling in their new home which is nestled at the on the golf course. “There was an evening with a glass of wine and a fire out on the back patio not long after we moved into our house and Allan and I were discussing our new location and all of the things we liked about it,” says Cindy. “Being lovers of Halloween, it was hard for us to believe the Country Club didn’t offer something for its members on Halloween. Our children are too old for trick or treating, but we thought it was the perfect place for those with small children because it was so much safer than the streets—and a more controlled environment, but still with the freedom for them to run around and enjoy. It would be fun for the parents, too.”
Allan mentioned the idea to Cleveland Country Club General Manager Aaron Lasker, who then took the idea to the golf pro at the club.
“We discussed the possibility while riding around one day and decided to give it a try. We honestly never expected it to turn into what it has become,” Lasker says. Allan went a step further and offered to cook hot dogs and hamburgers at their house, once the trick-or-treating came to a close.
Needless to say, it has turned into one of the largest events of the year. The initial plan was to pull a trailer, hayride style, to transport the trick-or-treaters around the golf course, but when everyone arrived that first year, there was no choice but to use golf carts. Now, there is a new tradition with golf carts lining up at the clubhouse on Halloween afternoon. At dusk, the convoy of goblin-filled golf carts makes its way along the path of the golf course. The children trick or treat at the back properties of those who participate. They often set up tables and chairs to greet each little ghost or goblin with goodies.
Although the event has gotten bigger each year, the Grittmans have graciously continued to host the party at their home. “We are the last stop for the kids, and it is so fun to see them running up to our house full of excitement, and most likely, sugar!” Cindy says laughing. “The club provides the hot dogs, burgers, and various drinks for everyone. And Allan gets busy grilling. It wasn’t so hard the first year or two because the crowd was a manageable size. Now, it’s gotten more challenging because the number is up to about 150 or so. We have gotten our friends to bring extra grills, and the guys help Allan with the cooking.”
“I think the adults have just as much fun as the kids. Of course, we can’t just leave it at hot dogs and hamburgers, so we always make our own appetizers. I have friends help out with that part too. I like to wait and see what the weather is going to be like and of course being in the Delta it can vary greatly,” she adds. “One year it was so cold we had the fire pit lit, and I had a large pot of homemade chili and some hot chocolate with marshmallows. Both were hits. The next year it was so hot we had children wanting to jump in the pool. Cold drinks and lighter foods were the tickets. Easy serving, easy pickup types of foods are usually what I try to stick with.”
The Grittmans have always been social, and while their two daughters are grown, they both come home to watch the spectacle. They are also expecting their first grandchild, a boy, in September, which will make this family tradition even more special.
“So, needless to say, I am looking even more forward to future Halloweens. I already have his first costume, and he is not even here yet,” Cindy laughs.
Entertaining at times can be a lot of work and this event is definitely one of those times.
“The decorations are a big deal to me. I hate spiders, so they have become my theme. My friends cannot believe I use spiders, being so afraid of them. And the scary girl swinging in the tree is freaky, but she’s a hit with the kids and scares the guys who maintain the golf course! I try to add new things every year,” Cindy says. “It’s a crazy week leading up to Halloween, but I get a lot of joy out of it. Allan is usually really busy on the farm with harvesting, but he always makes time for this event.”
Cindy admits it is somewhat daunting to look across the course and see the line of golf carts headed their way with dozens of costumed children coming towards them.
“It all happens so fast, and we are so busy I honestly don’t get to talk to everybody, but I do have the most fun. Seeing the kids in their costumes, some homemade, and even some of the parents dressed up, is just a joy. It’s a great family time and is rewarding to know we had a part in making it all happen.”