High-spirited Halloween

Halloween is a time of year that is a lot of fun for young and old.  It is best known for the throngs of little ones dressed in their creepiest, cutest, and craziest costumes to delight us all with their tricks in exchange for treats. Richard Florida has even developed a neat index to see how cities compare in terms of how good the trick-or-treating is (some factors include the number of kids of trick-or-treating age and neighbourhood walkability) – for more, you can listen to a short clip about it on NPR and check out how Canadian cities rank.  However, today I want to share a few fun Halloween celebrations I’ve come across that are more than just door-to-door candy-fueled capers.

From what I’ve read, Theatre Bizarre is one of the most… bizarre and epic celebrations around Halloween.  It is a circus/fairground style bizarre which took place in one of the rundown, ailing neighbourhoods of Detroit.  Creepy funhouses, freak shows, and vaudevillian spectacle abound in this old fashioned carnival.  This year the city’s fire marshals gave it the boot for safety concerns, but instead of a no-show, the celebration was welcomed by the Fillmore Theatre!  It’s one of many reasons to keep your eye on Detroit!

New Haven Connecticut celebrates by holding a Halloween themed Critical Mass – what a great way to bring people out to celebrate cycling and spookiness together!

The Huffington Post also recently ran a piece about the 10 Best Halloween Celebrations In the US .  They all look like fun, but I think my favourites are the New Orleans and New York celebrations (skeletons and brass bands are a deadly combination in my books)!

Which brings me to my own experience this year.  I currently live in a small town in Vermont where Halloween is accompanied by a whole night of celebration.  There is a monster petting zoo, fire dancing, tarot card readings, and more.  The nights culminates into a parade lead by a brass band and monsters who pull a fire organ, where everyone in town shows up in their creepiest, cutest, and (mostly) craziest costumes to celebrate together.  Most everyone is in the parade, so there really are not a lot of spectators, but that makes it all the more fun.  The parade eventually arrives at a local music hall where a big dance party continues into the night.  There is still standard trick-or-treating in town as well, but the parade is what everyone looks forward to.  This weekend was my first experience with this local right of passage and it was the most excited I’ve felt on Halloween as an adult.

I am used to sitting at home on Halloween handing out candy to children, or getting together with a few friends.  While I enjoy seeing adorable kids in costumes, handing out candy always feels a bit isolating especially if your neighbourhood or street doesn’t get a lot of traffic.  You really just spend the night sitting at home waiting.  And although I enjoy hanging out with friends, it doesn’t always feel very celebratory.  But hundreds of people of all ages coming together for a night of fun feels like a true celebration, and I think the sense of community that is fosters really makes it special for everyone.

Here is a video of the town parade from a few years ago.  I will attest that it is still quite accurate except that people pull the fire organ instead of horses and there was much more brass band action which, again, I can’t get enough of (I may be obsessed… or possessed.  Either way, let’s dance!):

It would be great to see more events like these pop up in Regina and all over the prairies… so let’s get those creative juices flowing!

**mouse over photos to see credit info

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High-spirited Halloween

2 thoughts on “High-spirited Halloween

  1. wourliem says:

    Thanks for your Halloween post Laura. The ‘Gory Daze’ video shows White River Junction to be an interesting place. Twin Peaks sort of came to mind, in the weird and wonderful way of Twin Peaks.

    In my experience, Halloween is a forgotten night where nothing ever happens. Children drop by for candy and…well, that’s about it.

    Growing up, however, Halloween was the biggest night of the year: both the night of candy grabing and my elementary school’s community dance. It was usually the only dance of the year and it was open to students of all ages and their families. The community dance was my community-school-social highlight of the year. Everyone came out and teased each other about dancing with girls and were embarassed by their families. The drama, the hijinks and, of course, getting funky to the best (worst) of early 1990s dance music.

    I appreciate how excited I would be coming across Halloween revival. I don’t know where the community would come from in Regina, that is not already there (schools, social clubs and private parties), to have a broader celebration?

    Regardless, there are some great examples of what people could get under way to spice up next Halloween.

    1. A community dance! That is fantastic – that is exactly what I’m talking about. More ways to celebrate together. This is not to say that there can’t also be the regular Halloween clubbing nights that people go to as well (though I can’t say as I’ve ever went to these things), but I like to think that events that are a little more off the cuff or local (community-based) could also get a bit more play.

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