Will and I took time off to go to Ashland to see a couple of plays and to watch the Halloween Parade we had heard about. Nothing prepared us for this annual Ashland community event. I suppose you could call it a parade, people in costumes coming down mainstream to the beat of drums and symbols led by two cop cars, lights flashing. But the similarity stops there.
For a couple of hours we saw people in costumes, all ages from those in baby rollers to elderly people going up and down streets not very different than from a high school hall at noon, back and forth, meeting in groups, excited to see friends in neighbors. Even when the cop cars with flashing lights and drum beats could be seen and heard, people continued to cluster and to take their time walking in the street to their destination, the starting place of the parade. Somewhere two streams met and became one, here and there along the route and became one flowing mass, about 14 across and about eight blocks long a continuous mass of costumes, some gleeful, some shy, some proud, some taking their parts seriously, some playing with the audience, high fives, growls. We spectators lined the parade watching, but as Will and I looked this way and that, we decided unless we wanted to stand out as turista, we definitely need to dress a bit for even watching a parade.
I counted about 18 ethnic stereotypes, Japanese kimonoed women winning hands down with 10. One was even Asian (poor thing. Finally something she could wear the yukata and happi her Obachan must have given her to something in Ashland.) Bumble bees were a clear favorite, with about 16. I didn't even bother to count dead people who came in all different categories. The knives, stakes, cleavers, swords etc through the heads were very popular. I liked the three Japanese guys costumed as their version of white tourists. I don't thing everyone understood their effort thinking they were lost and swept up by a parade just being themselves.
The parade was preceded by the runners who also came in all ages, many costumed -- a choo choo train trying to outrace a chef, followed by the bubbling sponges of the tv ad advertising shower and toilet bowl cleaner and a tailed, bright blue avatar.
The parade ended when the streets finally were made to be for vehicles, again signaled by two cop cars with lights going in both lanes down Main. But the festivities never stopped. All the shops were open giving treats out to trick and treaters, and we couldn't go anywhere without bumping into teens in costume circled up in cliques just like in the halls, with the same energy as they do in the halls. If you needed to get past them, you just had to make your way around sometimes ducking a hit or a trip meant for their friends but catching you instead.
It was great!
Halloween in Ashland is definitely something I'd like to do again!! The ex-hippy, retired middle school teacher in me loved it! Next time, bringing the costumes along!
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