Melrose Tunnel–a pedestrian walkway underneath the railroad tracks that divides St. Raymond from the rest of NDG–has always been a focus for the Cheap Art Collective’s creativity. Before the Haunted Tunnel, we’d already been occasionaly decorating it. In 2010, Melanie Stuy suggested we alter the negative perception of the Melrose Tunnel by using the space to hang art made by the community. We hung self-portraits made by children and seniors in the community, Melanie’s special activity.
I mostly remember getting on on board when it came to decorating for Halloween. I love the holiday; I didn’t really get to celebrate it when I was young. So when Mel had us over at her home to make Halloween crafts to hang up, I was all for it. And slowly (as Melanie became focused on other amazing projects), I’ve gone from participant to coordinator for at least the past three years, with lots (and I mean LOTS) of help from the NDG Community Council and my friends.
This year, the NDG Art Hive dedicated some of its donated funds towards paying me for coordinating the Haunted Melrose Tunnel–for the very first time! Although I love this tradition so much I’d continue to volunteer, it was very touching to get paid. It gave my time and hard work value, and I worked that much harder. My hope is that if it does become a paid position, there’s a higher chance this tradition will go on even if I’m unable to continue.
I shared the wealth by hiring Emily M, a young resident of St. Raymond, to take pictures (all the pictures on this blog are hers!) and film our major crafting events. I’m hoping to edit that together soon into a short video that can be shared at summertime film festivals and online.
Every year I’m always a little surprised the Haunted Melrose Tunnel comes together. Decorations were made at multiple events with various partners: the Westhaven and St. Raymond Community Centres, the St. Raymond’s Residents Action Group, NDG Senior’s Atelier, the Notre-Dame de Grace Bears and Cubs, and the Unitarian Church of Montreal. When the day arrived to paint the mural in the Tunnel, we had great attendance! I’ll also be eternally grateful to the group that showed up on a VERY cold Halloween morning to put everything up–also thankful we went out for hot chocolate afterwards.
On Halloween night, I could hear families reacting to what we’ve done, as they walked through the Haunted Tunnel. I felt a glow of pride. No matter how chaotic it gets, it’s always worth it.
I’ve already got ideas for next year.