|Local Halloween parade does more than scare|
This time last year, a float depicting a creepy version of Alice in Wonderland paraded through downtown Baton Rouge, along with one inspired by Poltergeist, with krewe members dressed as quotable character Carol Anne. Five thousand spectators watched these and about 20 other floats march behind a fitting grand marshal, the Louisiana Art and Science Museum's Ptolemaic period mummy—or at least his likeness—who led the zombies, vampires and other creatures from the backseat of a vintage red convertible.
Baton Rouge's first-ever Halloween Parade was a big success and a draw for both families and adults, says Kelley Criscoe Stein, founding president of the 10/31 Consortium—the two-year-old local nonprofit organization that hosts the event.
“It was a very good showing,” says Criscoe. “We had met with organizers of the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade, which didn't that have many when they first began. When we look at how big they've gotten, we expect to really grow.”
Indeed, the 10/31 Consortium seems to have tapped into a cultural sweet spot that fuses the region's love for parades with Baton Rouge's growing identity as a Halloween destination.
Stein launched the 10/31 Consortium after her friend, Adrienne Harrison, told her the Capital City needed a Halloween parade and that Stein, a young marketing professional and Halloween fanatic, should be the one to plan it. Stein ran the idea by Midnight Productions head Dwayne Sanburn, creator of the nationally known 13th Gate in downtown Baton Rouge, the haunted house ranked third in the U.S. by hauntworld.com.
“I was very happy to hear that Kelley wanted to do this,” Sanburn recalls. “We were thrilled to be a part of it, and to see Halloween expand in downtown was just wonderful.”
The parade starts at the 13th Gate and snakes through the Central Business District.
Former Governor Edwin Edwards will serve as grand marshal.
But while the parade is the 10/31 Consortium's most recognizable event, it's only part of what the organization aims to accomplish, says Stein.
The nonprofit's motto is community, courage and creativity, and it raises money or in-kind donations for three charities: Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and the Big Buddy program.
Volunteers raise cash for the hospital, collect canned goods at every event for the Food Bank and gather costumes for low-income children from the Big Buddy program, who are invited to march in the parade.
The 10/31 Consortium hopes to foster more trick-or-treating in all neighborhoods, and the plan is to start in the area north of Florida Boulevard known as Mall City.
“Every neighborhood should be able to have its own trick-or-?treating tradition,” says Stein. “It's a great way to fight crime and build community.” 1031consortium.com
Second Annual Halloween Parade
“Boo on the Bayou; A Red Stick Apocalypse”
Saturday, October 27
Parade rolls at 2 p.m. from the 13th Gate on St. Phillip Street
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