Why does it have to be “trick OR treat?” Can’t we have a little bit of both?
The folks at 10/31 Consortium have found a way to mix both scary cheer and feel-good charity into the bubbling cauldron that is their annual Halloween Parade in Baton Rouge.
For 10/31 Consortium President Jessica Edwards, the parade is the perfect chance for residents to show off their creepy and creative sides.
“What I love most (about Halloween) is the creativity and dressing up and getting people together to carve pumpkins. It’s one of my favorite things to do … I thought, we have all these other parades, and Halloween is just as creative as any of the other holidays, if not more,” Edwards said.
Edwards was present at the group’s very first meeting back in 2010, where she began as part of the fundraising committee. Since then she has been thrilled to see the event — and the Consortium — grow each year.
“I’ve seen certain ideas evolve into full-blown events, and how the parade itself and the krewes and crowds have grown. Each year we keep seeing more people getting involved! I finally feel like I’m getting to that point where I say, ‘Yeah, we have a Halloween Parade’ and people don’t say, ‘What?’”
So why is this year’s Halloween parade taking place on Nov. 1? Edwards explained that the group knew better than to go toe-to-toe with that most unstoppable of creatures: LSU football.
“We’re at the mercy of the LSU football schedule, so we always have to pick our dates based on them. This year it was either we do the parade on a big away game day, or Nov. 1, the day after Halloween, which is also the Day of the Dead,” Edwards said.
The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, as it is known in Mexico, is similar to Halloween but with its own distinct traditions and trappings, like the iconic skull facepaint. This year’s parade fully embraces that vibrant tradition.
Leading the charge of ghosts and ghouls this year will be The Advocate columnist Smiley Anders.
“I’m honored to have been selected as grand marshal of the Halloween Parade,” Anders said. “I assumed the parade organizers selected me to add a little sex appeal to the parade, and get out more women to watch it (and me).
“But they informed me that I was selected because of a mistake. You see, they saw me coming to work one day and, observing my attire, assumed I was already dressed in my Halloween costume. Honest mistake ... Seriously, more or less, I hope everyone comes out for the parade. It should be fun ... after all, it’s on what Mexicans refer to as ‘The Day of the Dead.’ What could be more fun than that?”
Edwards wants folks to know that Halloween comes more than once a year for members of the 10/31 Consortium, which puts on events year-round.
“We start our member year in July, which is “Half-a-ween.” Then in September we have a pirate scavenger hunt, where people go around the city collecting photos on their phone while dressed as pirates, and everyone always has so much fun doing that, and it’s a good way to get the word out about the parade … we normally plan a fun little event every month for our members.”
The 10/31 Consortium puts the “caring” in “scaring” with donations to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, a costume drive for the Big Buddy organization, and food donations for The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, which will be present at the parade, giving parade-goers a chance to spread some holiday cheer to those in need.
Like Halloween itself, the 10/31 Consortium and the parade they put on each year wear many faces. Edwards invites the brave and the curious to come out for the festivities and to learn more about the people who put it on each year.
“We are more than just a parade. We are a non-profit organization that is involved in the community and is just trying to fulfill our motto, which is ‘creativity, community, and courage.’”