A Cleveland Halloween: block parties, masquerades and more

A Cleveland Halloween: block parties, masquerades and more

Each year on Oct. 31, the quiet streets of Cleveland transform from an ordinary small town to a candy-stuffed, music-filled home of superheroes, monsters and princesses. Not everyone celebrates Halloween, but for those who do, there are several options for celebrating the haunted holiday around town.

Melissa Woody, vice president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce, explained why these organized events are important for the city.

'Quality, well-organized events promote a sense of community. In the case of Halloween, the events also offer a level of safety that perhaps going door-to-door for trick or treating doesn't guarantee,' Woody said.

The biggest of these events is Cleveland's annual Halloween block party. The 27-year-old block party was started by the Cleveland Police Department as a safe alternative to trick or treating. Now the event is coordinated by Main Street Cleveland, and on some years sees crowds of 15,000 or more gathered around the Bradley County Courthouse Square.

From 5-7 p.m. downtown features live music, vendor booths and "Treat Street", hosted by Mars Chocolate, whose staff gives away thousands of bags of free candy.

Senior Cathyana Marcel said she liked how inclusive the block party was last year.

'There were a lot of different people there. It was very lively,' Marcel said.

Families and students can also venture slightly off downtown and avoid big crowds by walking through Centenary Avenue'an unofficial trick-or-treat palooza.

Murl Dirksen, professor of anthropology and sociology and current Centenary resident, has been participating in the festivities for 25 years. He said Centenary is known as the 'family street'.

Dirksen also explained that he spends several hundred dollars on candy each year for the over 2,000 trick-or-treaters that come through his neighborhood.

'I always say I hate it,' Dirksen said, 'but then I see the little kids dressed up.'

Dirksen and his wife, vice president for academic affairs Carolyn Dirksen, are known for decorating their home in a different Disney theme each year for the event. This Halloween, people may find themselves singing along to 'Let it Go' as the movie Frozen is projected on a big screen outside the Dirksens' home.

'It's just [a great] celebration,' Dirksen said, 'It's not just the candy. It's a community thing.'

Hannah Gilstrap, a sophomore resident assistant in Nora Chambers Hall, admitted to trick-or-treating last year, as well as planning to take her hall this year.

'Tons of my girls have never celebrated Halloween. They were super excited just to decorate their doors or carve pumpkins,' Gilstrap said.

For Gilstrap, the best part of Halloween, however, is, the candy.

"[One of the houses] last year literally gave out full size candy bars," Gilstrap said.

For any student who decides to go out on Halloween, Woody gives some safety advice.

'Students should be aware of surroundings and watch for traffic patterns,' Woody said. 'Campus walkers will need to watch out for drivers'they may not see you in the dark with crowds and distractions. Be smart and realize that this is a crowded area on a day that promotes spooky costumes and situations. Stick with a group and seek safe, fun activities.'

Alternatively, students can stay on campus this year for Epsilon's Masquerade. Unlike previous years, the event will be held on Halloween night at 7 p.m. in Alumni Park.

Lauren Cox, a junior Lee student who lives on campus, was happy about the change.

'I like that it's actually on Halloween this year' Cox said. 'It gives people something classy to do rather than attending raunchy Halloween parties."

This event will feature cash prizes, a costume contest, free food, apple bobbing, music and a DJ.

Epsilon President Hannah Lethbridge said the event is a great opportunity to engage with the Community on our campus for Halloween.

'It's basically a huge costume party,' Lethbridge said.

In past years, characters from "Pretty Little Liars", "The Great Gatsby" and even shower loofas have shown up to this event.

'We've had some crazy costumes,' Lethbridge said.

Students should also keep an eye out for costumes on campus the day of Halloween. Lee is known to have several costumed characters attending classes in celebration of the holiday.

'You're walking to class, and then you just see Buddy the Elf sitting in Humanities eating a bagel,' Cox recounted. 'I love it.'

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