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Traditionally, during the first warm spring night children play Ghost in the Graveyard- a game that may be known by many other names, such as "The Witch Ain't Out Tonight" and "Bloody Murder". It's not only fun, but it's also good exercise. This is an old game that has been handed down from one generation to another. Let's not lose it!
- Find some friends to play. The more people you can round up, the better.
- Choose one house in the neighborhood for the playing field. You will need a home base where everyone can stand or all touch at the same time such as a large tree, front stoop, or back patio.
- Choose one person to be the ghost. You can do this any way you like: picking a number, asking for a volunteer, rock, paper, scissors, etc.
- Have everyone but the ghost stand at the home base while the ghost runs off to hide somewhere around the outside of the house and hides.
- Chant slowly as a group: "One o'clock . . . two o'clock . . . three o'clock . . ." and so on, up to twelve o'clock. Then shout, "Midnight! I hope I don't see the ghost tonight!". Alternatively, "Starlight, star bright, I hope to see a ghost tonight!"
- Leave the home base in either direction and make your way around the yard. When anyone encounters the ghost they yell, "Ghost in the graveyard!" and try to run away. When the ghost catches someone, they become a ghost too. Anyone who is able to run back to home base is safe.
- Have all the people who were caught go and hide with the original ghost. The people on the home base start again with the chant: "One o'clock . . . two o'clock . . ."
- Continue the game like this until everyone is caught. The last person caught becomes the ghost for the next round.
- Be sure and wait until after dark to play.
- Home base should be able to hold all players.
- In some variations of the game, the ghost counts to twelve o'clock and then everyone else shouts, "Midnight!" but this has the disadvantage of potentially giving the ghost's hiding spot away.
- Another version has all those on home base actually go and seek out the ghost, who remains hiding. The person who finds the ghost yells out, and all must then flee from the ghost and return to base.
- The ghost may also be called, in some variations of the game, a "witch" or "bloody murderer."
- In another variation of the game, multiple ghosts can play. This works well with a lot of people playing.
- You can choose a different place to play, such as a grass field.
- Another variation of the game is where the ghost hides and each player hold hands, and when the ghost is spotted you must dash back to home.
- Ask your parents' permission before going outside, especially after dark.
- Be careful not to run into obstacles. You might want to pick up hoses and gardening tools before playing.
- This game might not be suitable for older people with weak hearts, or younger kids who are easily scared. It can be extremely scary when the ghost pops out at you.
- Do not play this game in an actual graveyard. The possibility of damaging or displacing grave markers is very high. Not only that, it's disrespectful of those who have passed on and those who still tend the graves.
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