By John Hanley
A lot of people enjoy Halloween. For younger kids it means candy, for teenagers it means parties and the 13th Gate, and for most adults it means drinking or having a fun night with the kids. Halloween means cooler weather, costumes, and an excuse for fun. But a few people in Baton Rouge take their love for Halloween to another level.
The 10/31 Consortium is a local, non-profit organization that lives and breathes Halloween, while using the holiday as a way to raise money for OLOL Children’s Hospital and food for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. July 25 will mark their 5th annual Black and Orange Bash, celebrating the kickoff to their season of events as well as the conception of the Consortium itself. The season culminates in their Halloween Parade on October 31.
“For those of us that serve as board members it’s…a time to reflect, to look at how far we’ve come, and with each year a larger crowd—a glimpse as to what we can be,” said Lauren Collins, the current President of 10/31 Consortium. “I find it exciting. To our 10/31 members it’s our annual membership meeting. Everyone comes together to kick off our parade season.”
Collins added that the Black and Orange Bash is a chance for the Consortium’s board members to “give all the gory details of the parade,” including the theme, Grand Marshall, Royalty, and the poster and bead designs. They also give details for the Ghostly Gala, which happens October 10 and corresponds with the Halloween Parade.
Kelley Stein, 10/31 Consortium’s founder, noted that the Black and Orange Bash—previously known as the Black and Orange Social—has grown since its conception five years ago, and they now expect about 125 attendees this year. Stein says she originally wanted to have just a Halloween Parade, but that it only grew bigger the more she worked on her plans.
“When I first decided that I wanted to do a Halloween parade, I looked at various different models of doing so,” she said. She looked at all of Baton Rouge’s parades, and found that Spanish Town fit best as an example of what she wanted.
“I decided I wanted to…follow their charity model, and once I realized that, I said ‘Oh, well, now I need to start a charity.’”
After deciding she wanted to make the parade function as a charity, Stein says all of the other ideas for events started coming up as well, including the Black and Orange Bash.
“[We] started off with a few parading krewes and an excited board of directors,” added Collins. “Now it’s an event…[our] time to present our beneficiaries and the work that we do.”
Collins says they also recognize members outside of the community—Stein adding that they offer awards for community, courage, and creativity, to coincide with their group’s motto. Saying “thank you to somebody that gets up in the morning and tries to be positive and good” is what Collins says makes her the most proud of the organization.
Stein is also proud of what she’s started, and says they’re “dreaming big,” with hopes to someday be on the level of the St. Patrick’s Day and Spanish Town parades. “We know that we’re small, but you gotta start somewhere, and we’re not afraid.”
The Black and Orange Bash is July 25 at 7:30 p.m. and will be open to anyone 21 and older. The price is $25 for members and $40 for non-members, but membership to the Consortium is only $31 per year.