Evolution of Halloween at Andover: The Dance, Abbotween, and Pumpkin Carving


Halloween decorations adorn parts of campus.

The Halloween Dance, Abbotween, and pumpkin carving were some of the most popular and longstanding traditions that students participated in this past week. With flashy costumes, games, and plenty of candy, Halloween at Andover is one of the biggest weekend events of the year. 

Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities, spoke on the most prominent Halloween traditions observed at Andover and how they have changed over the years. He touched on the details and planning that went into these events and how the Student Activities Office has contributed to encouraging cultures and traditions that come with Halloween. 

“[This] Friday night we did pumpkin carving, and we had tarot readers here. I think we carved 150 pumpkins; it was pretty popular… We started doing pumpkin carving right when I started working here. [For] our annual Halloween Dance, Pine Knoll and Flagstaff students from their Cluster Councils do all the decorating, but getting the DJs, the space, and the photobooth was my end of helping out. The Halloween dance has been around since before I got here… [Then], [Taylor] Washburn, [Dean of Abbot Cluster,] and folks in Abbot are doing Abbotween, which [is] a Phillips Academy trick-or-treating night,” said Capano.  

Brandon Fu ’25 spoke on what events he enjoyed participating in on Halloween during his time here, highlighting the Abbotween candy. 

“Normally, everyone goes down to Abbot Cluster to get a bunch of candy from all the Abbot dorms; it’s something that the Abbot Co-Pres[idents have] set up and it’s a really fun event. My Freshman year, I went, got a lot of candy and afterward Brace Center was open and they had some apple cider there too… Everybody wears their costumes on Friday and Saturday to the dance which was really fun as well. I feel like people put a lot of effort into [costumes]. It’s always fun seeing people walk around with unique costumes,” said Fu. 

Fu mentioned conversations around guidelines for Halloween costumes that he’s seen reiterated. 

“They’ve done a better job of this every year, but really elucidating the expectations regarding costumes is always a big deal, especially in terms of cultural appropriation. It’s a fun event and I think a lot of Andover students know what they’re doing, but for those that are new, it’s always good to have a refresher,” said Fu. 

Aya Murata, Assistant Dean of Students and Residential Life, spoke on how Abbotween was started to create a fun on-campus trick-or-treating experience that wasn’t invasive to the trick-or-treating experience in the town of Andover and introduce students who may not be familiar to Abbot campus.

“We [realized] hardly any students who don’t live in Abbot ever go down to Abbot, so it could be this nice way of introducing PA students to the Abbot campus. Since then, minor adjustments have been made, such as moving Abbotween to a weekend to prevent late-night trick-or-treating calamities,” said Murata. 

Murata also touched on another Halloween event, the Halloween Dance, which has changed more significantly through the years, the most prominent being its change from a charity/fundraising event to a free event. 

“For years, each cluster would have a charity event that they would sponsor for the whole school over the course of the year, so during the time I was Cluster Dean, [the dance] was our charity fundraiser between Flagstaff and Pine Knoll so [it would] cost two or three dollars [to get in], and the Cluster Councils would decide where that money would go to,” said Murata. 

Focusing on smaller traditions at Andover, Capano discussed the different activities students and dorms took part in during the week of Halloween. Additionally, Capano mentioned that the Office of Student Activities is flexible with what happens on Halloween at Andover.

“I know some kids just love getting dressed up and wearing costumes… Some dorms do pumpkin carving. Another tradition, it’s not for students, but because there are so many faculty students on campus, they do a Halloween party and parade through [Paresky] Commons [on October 31]. Around dinner time, they’ll get in their costumes and they’ll walk around [Paresky] Commons so all the students get to see them. [Halloween] comes down to [that] some people love Halloween and some don’t really care. [It depends on] what students want to do. If the students figure out a new tradition they want to try [and] we can pull it off, we’ll give it a shot,” said Capano.