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Halloween: 2019

So Shivery Delicious:

Halloween Parades

Soon it will be time to switch off the Box That Glows Softly in the Dark, step back out into the world and find a spot where it is O.K. to moan, holler, laugh like a hyena, slink like a mummy, shuffle like a zombie, gawp and point rudely at passers-by, dragging the little monsters by their sticky claws so that they, too, can scream it all out.

 Better to find a big, BIG party now, and paint the town orange.  It is definitely worth making a trip to savour Halloween at its very best. But the ancient Feast of Samhain comes in many flavors. Will you choose fizz, fun and frolic, mordant social  satire, hours of mindless fun for all the family, or a profound emotional epiphany?   

The Halloween parades profiled here all welcome kids.  All are safe and attract surprisingly little crime. And you can   dress in costume and walk in the parade or watch from the   sidelines in your civvies. But there all similarities end.

Ghostly Gotham   New York's Village Annual Halloween Parade    

Design for offiial 2014 NYC Halloween tee shirt

 The world's wittiest Halloween parade will showcase close to 60,000 costumed participants and they're likely to be watched by a crowd of two million.

 Arrive early to get a  good spot, well before 6.30 pm. The parade's at 7:00 pm. The parade route keeps expanding uptown from Greenwich Village in order to accommodate the crowds. The parade starts at Spring Street; but you'll get the best view if you stand along Sixth Avenue (known only to tourists as Avenue of the  Americas) between 14th and 16th Streets.  

What's In A Dream

The theme is "Wild Thing!"  The parade notes that for eons, "civilization has defined what it is to be human,[and] humans have harbored a longing for our wild past. In remote villages throughout Europe, the Wild Man persists. . . Norsemen once donned “the bear shirt” (literally the “ber-serk”) exchanging the mantle of civilization for the potency of their animal past. More often, though, the Wild Thing affirms life over death. . .Like vines creeping from beneath the sidewalk cracks,the Wild Thing persists and pushes through our consciousness where and when he can.. . .These days, as we increasingly experience our world via tiny screens and dwell in virtual realities, we need the Wild Thing, more than ever, to return us the realm of the physical,the visceral, the material. Like Max in his Wolf Suit, it is time for us to make a little  mischief"

Support the parade by buying and wearing the official tee-shirt. The parade is sticking with the 2018 "I am a robot" tee (design, by Trevor Grassi seen above).  To learn more about the shirt, click here.

Bones On The Run

Back to real life, so to speak. Leading the parade are the skeletons, puppets really. Often called "Day of the Dead" puppets,  they reflect cultures across the continent —Port au Prince, New Orleans, Trinidad, Oaxaca and more — and have been a parade fixture for over 20 years. The skeletons symbolize those who have gone before and the joy of life.

This year you're likely to see costumed celebrants, many scary Donald Trumps (assembled from spare parts), Kates and Williams and Harrys and Meagans, many Lady Ga-Gas, and more, plus lovely skeletons snd amazing puppets.  In previous years you might have seen John Sununu, a pregnant Ashton with   a pregnant Demi. or a well-worn Beetlejuice. There's sure to be a huge ensemble reenacting the "Thriller" video/

This year, we also might see furious Queen Elizabeths,  Queens of Hearts,  (many, many Queens), every political candidate imaginable, and  energetic Tom  Cruises. If it's Halloween, won't Sarah Palin be in town?  Real celebrities conceal themselves in costumes on this egalitarian evening, when all creatures,  especially the unloved and the unlovely, get to be the stars.

Bands, Bread and Dice

Then there are the 53 different bands in all, 100s   of  puppets, dancers, artists and vibes. But the most awesome eye-food here will be the "group   costumes", where people club together to create zany, unsettling   tableaux. Look! There's a six-pack of Bud, with the plastic rings   around each "can" to keep the group together...a loaf of Wonder   Bread, slices solemnly marching in tight formation...the Revenge   of the Fuzzy Dice, furiously attacking a car.. 101 Dalmatians, an entire chess set, 52 self-shuffling   cards, Three Blind Dice, and that socko favourite, the New York   Skyline.

One year, as the Twin Towers, Empire State Building and   a stunningly beautiful Chrysler Building strolled by, Traveler heard two  visiting Russian officials gasp. "This democracy is   really something," one mumbled, shaking his head.   Creeping back to your crypt straight after such lurid   foolishness would be ghastly indeed: Snake back down into the nooks and   crannies of Greenwich Village where you may run into thirteen   Princess Kates looking for a jazz joint after a   scrumptididdlious din-din.  

For more information  about the parade. Click here

Fantasy Fest in Key West  

   Fatasy Fest Parade , Key West

Key West, a town that soaks in sun and a ridiculously sultry,  sulky beauty, puts on a Halloween parade prettier than any in all the world. It is the little island's reply, in advance, to New Orleans' Mardi Gras.

As with Mardi Gras, you can go to Key West way before the day of the big parade and find the party has   already begun. The full array of events runs 18-27 October. There's a   pet masquerade (24 October) where you dress to match your   critter friend, a mask and costume-making class,  costume competitions, balls, toga parties, beach concerts, and  cook-outs. The Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade (26 October) at sunset, is merely the "Conch Republic's" gaudy climax.

Anime Of The People

Hey, it's Key West! This year's Fantasy Fest theme  is "In Tune But Off Key: Celebrating 40 Years Of Fantasy."   Expect to see a lot of twenty foot high Rio/Vegas style feathery showgirl costumes, sequins, spangles, chiffon and satin. You might see the Key West Southernmost Point buoy waddling down Duval, "90 Miles to Cuba"   painted on her pumpkinesque belly, walking hand in hand with Fidel Castro. And beware of two-headed alligators, block-long, fire-breathing serpents and the sickly, lethal Rumrunners poured  cool in darkened bars.

Fantasy Fest in Key West 

Music is mostly tropical—Cuban dance troop, Carribbean steel pans and reggae—and there's also the Key West High School   marching band. Highlights include: "Goombay Celebration," a Caribbean style "street party" on 25, 26 October; the 24 October 44th annual Toga Party  at Sloppy Joe's (toga required); and, of course, The Fantasy Fest Parade starting from Southard and Whitehead Streets at 7:00 pm, Saturday,29 October.

Parties, Sunsets And Thou

There are loads of parties. And you can always fall upon the usual island delights: short cruises on the Gulf of Mexico, the homes of Tennessee   Williams and Ernest Hemingway, Mel Fisher's Museum, exquisite restaurants, heartbreaking sunsets, the clean, sweet bright air, and the opportunity to fend off unfamiliar feelings of lassitude   and bien-etre with rigorous strolls past pretty churches and lacy Conch houses, dark bars and front yards overflowing with lilacs and brilliant hibiscus.  Key West always plans a Recovery Day, with Children's Day activities at Bay View Park.              

 For schedule of events, click here.

Fantasy Fest Photos Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

 Day of the Dead, San Francisco


If cute little Hallmark pumpkins and Casper the friendly  ghost just aren't going to make it for you this year, you may be  ready for a transcendent experience —Day of the Dead Procession and Festival of Altars. 

This is not a Halloween event by any means; but it does occur around the  same time as All Hallows Eve. Its dedication to and veneration of those who have gone before offer a distinct and cleansing counterpoint to the Halloween frenzy.

Mark 2 November on your calendar. Place: 22nd & Bryant, in  San Francisco's Mission District.  Time: 7:00 PM   

The procession ends at Garfield Park where local artists have built altars. Moody and magnificent, artistic and atavistic, mournful and soulful, beautiful and ugly, San Francisco's moving Day of the Dead procession celebrates life and honours the gone. 

This is definitely the place to bring your bones if you're in a bad mood,  a sad mood, or if you're weary of hoo-hahs that demand too much perspiration for too little inspiration. Bring a candle, dress in  black, and flow along with the procession as you pass through the  huge "birthing tunnel" at the alley, out to the flickering night And skeletons!

Skeletons Are  The Key

Ms. Traveler has't seen so many skeletons doing dips and turns since she stopped writing for silly glossy women's  fashion magazines. Skeleton outfits are almost de rigeur at this formerly ritual that originated in  Mexico. Some folks carry photographs of their departed loved ones, others are lamenting the dead of El Salvador, or mourning earthquake victims, or, or, or...So many dead this last year! And the year before! And the year before that!

The numbers are staggering. It seems we all do it. Die, that is, though Traveler has definitely decided not to go. Yet in a crowd of six thousand skeletons the extraordinary starts to seem rather natural and ordinary, even okay. Aha.  Here is a veritable United Nations of love and sorrow and  passion, all religions, all races, all moods, all-inclusive, all  free, making mariachi music, wearing masks, stopping, and dancing  in the streets.

Grade school kiddies  march too, decked out in  black and hopping delightedly on excited feet while huge puppets  on stilts stalked crowds, floats, and twirling Aztec dancers.  Wait a minute—I get it. This ain't no boo-boo, boo-hoo, or voo- doo. It's one of those weird nights when people come together to  glory in their cultural diversity, a stunning, emotional example  of what America was meant to be. Those creepy politicians better look out and do us right, or we're gonna scream out and eat 'em  alive on Election Day, no bones about it.       

Num! Num! Num! Click here.

For more Halloween events, click here