By Myron Smothers
All around Baton Rouge are yards filled with jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, new scary movies are in theaters and Hocus Pocus is being aired on the Disney Channel. You can smell Halloween in the air. A lot money is being spent on costumes some people will wear only once. Well here is a suggestion. Why save your costumes for just a night of ‘Trick or Treating’ when you can put them on a bit earlier and head out to this year’s Baton Rouge Halloween Parade.
This is the fifth annual Baton Rouge Halloween Parade put on by the 10/31 Consortium. To kick things off, the 10/31 Consortium put on a corresponding ball on October 10 called The Ghostly Gala. Now it is time for the main event, the parade, which is Saturday, October 31 at 2 pm in Downtown Baton Rouge.
The Halloween Parade route begins with staging at The 13th Gate Haunted House and finishes at Laurel Street and River Road. There is a map of the parade route on the 10/13 Consortium website and the route features a party zone, a no alcohol zone and a no scare zone, which is for families with small children; the parade participants will not use any scare tactics on the crowd in this area.
In all five years of the parade, past president and president elect Jessica Edwards, says this year is bigger than ever.
“In our 5 years of putting on the parade, this year we have grown even more with close to 50 units in the parade, including floats, dancers, bike riders, horses, zombies and more”, said Edwards.
Each year is themed and this year’s theme is “It’s Halloween, Witches”.
“Don’t expect to only see people in tall black hats because our krewes like to get very creative” expressed Edwards. “We are trying to revitalize trick or treating.”
Edwards encourages parade-goers to dress up in costume and bring non-perishable food goods. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank truck will be in the parade as well as taking donations. The food bank is one of the beneficiaries of the 10/31 Consortium non-profit.
The others are the Big Buddy Program and the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. The 10/31 Consortium hosts a costume drive where the costumes donated go to children in the Big Buddy program to wear and walk in the parade. All proceeds from the event will go to the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.
10/31 Consortium was started by Kelley Criscoe Stein back in July 2010. The idea came from a longtime friend. She beginning planning the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade because she liked the idea of bringing a new, exciting event to the Capitol City.
After gaining approval from several sponsors and receiving great interest from a Facebook group she created, she began to plan the parade’s first meeting. During her planning, an epiphany hit her. She now knew what the group real purpose would be. The 10/31 Consortium would still be putting on the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade as a fun event for the community but it would also serve as a non-profit organization to benefit children. She felt this was the perfect way to help the children of the city she loved. The non-profit’s motto became “Courage, Creativity and Community”.
Edwards has also been a part of the organization from the beginning. She attended the first meeting from simply picking up a flyer and the rest is history. For those interested in joining Edwards and many others Halloween enthusiasts in the 10/31 Consortium it is $31 per year. This fee gives you a variety perks like being able to participate in the parade, advance notice on all 10/31 Consortium events, discounted or exclusive entry to all events, a monthly e-newsletter called The Copy Cat and much more.
After all the hard that been conducted to put the parade on for yet another year, Edwards hopes people come out to the parade to help support a good cause and celebrate the creativity that Baton Rouge has to offer. Her tip for parade goers is to bring a “10/31 Consortium” sign if you want extra candy thrown your way. While she loves seeing what the parade crews come up with each year, her most enjoyable part of the parade seems to always gets her a little emotional.
“My favorite part is seeing the crowd”, said Edwards. “I tear up every year seeing the crowd come out and dressed up and enjoying themselves”.
If you are still in the mood to “turn up” after the parade, the official after party will be held at the Roux House immediately following the parade.