Unique Ritual

Community CorrespondentOctober 22, 2013 

One Mountain Area person who will not be joining trick-or-treaters and other party-goers on Halloween is Shane Marrone, who celebrates the holiday in a manner that is quite unique — reading Ray Bradbury's "The Halloween Tree" aloud as he strolls through the North Fork Cemetery.

Having moved to Oakhurst in 2007 from Southern California, Marrone began his personal tradition in 2010 after reading Bradbury's book, which accurately relates the history of the holiday through fictional characters. In the novel, a group of boys are out on Halloween and one of them disappears in a rather mysterious fashion. To find him, the boys end up traveling back in time, and during the course of their journey learn the facts about the holiday.

Originally a New Year celebration a millennia ago, according to what Shane read, it was thought to be a period "when the veil between the material and ethereal worlds is most thin." "Samhein" or "All Saints Day" was eventually adopted by the Catholic Church and its name changed to Holy Evening, from which is derived the appellation Halloween.

Deciding he needed to remind himself and anyone else wishing to attend "of the meaning and origins of this beautiful and most ancient holiday," Marrone chose the North Fork Cemetery due to its seclusion and few visitors. Although he lives on the outskirts of Oakhurst, he opted against visiting the town's cemetery because he "didn't know how authorities would react to someone sitting and reading a book there."

Due to his convictions, Marrone says he will continue his personal tradition regardless of the size of his human audience, which usually includes only his girlfriend and a few family members. He also usually sees the same four or five people who come each year on Halloween to visit their dearly-departed who had passed away at that time.

One of his most ardent devotees is his mother, whose family has lived in the area since at least the early 1950s. In fact, it was a children's poem regarding Marrone's activity that she wrote and submitted to the Sierra Star that originally brought him to the newspaper's attention.

He is firmly convinced, however, that he has other listeners — the spirits of those who are no longer living.

Asked if he had ever felt their presence, he emphatically said, "absolutely."

Marrone was also quick to add that he never felt frightened or threatened by them, that it has always been "a good experience" in which he felt nothing but "positive energy." In fact, he considers the cemetery an extremely peaceful place because they are there.

Given his own passion and the reactions he has received from his audience — both humans and those no longer living — only his work schedule can keep him from his ritual of reading at the North Fork Cemetery. If he cannot make it on Halloween, however, he will certainly be there the following evening, on the original All Saints Day celebrated on Nov. 1, because it is one tradition he has no desire to abandon anytime soon.

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