'Halloween Capital of the World' set for 94th annual parade


Like many great innovations, this one came because of rowdy, rabble-rousing kids – and nearby adults seeking a respite.

As few as 95 years ago, Anoka, Minnesota residents would wake up during the days around Halloween to find they'd been pranked. Cows would be meandering up and down Main Street; windows would be soaped over; outhouses would be tipped to the ground.

So in 1920, the local leaders devised a prank prevention plan – keep all the rascally kids busy with a giant parade and bonfire. It's believed to be the first U.S. city to host a Halloween celebration, the town says.

Ninety-four yeas later, that tradition is still going strong in what's now known as the "Halloween Capital of the World," as Anokans get set for Saturday's Grand Day Parade.

Thanks pranksters!

The march features floats, bands and lots of costumes, with one of the city's rules being: "Creativity required."That means lots of orange and black, and the use of this year's parade theme of "Pumpkins." It's kid-friendly – so no blood or gore – and political groups aren't allowed to appear in the parade.

There will even be some celebrity cameos: Some zombies from TV shows "The Walking Dead" (AMC) and the Headless Horseman from "Sleepy Hollow" (FOX) will appear during the parade.

WCCO says it's the largest such parade in the state, and 70,000 attendees are expected.

It begins along the city's Main Street a 1 p.m. Prior to the parade's start, KARE 11 reports the T-6 Thunder North American Flight Team will fly overhead.

The parade is essentially the grand finale of family activities, after a week-plus of Halloween events.

That included the Anoka Halloween Amazing Race, in which teams compete in a series of challenges strung together throughout the city with clues (similar to the TV show of the same name), a pumpkin carving contest, a bonfire and more.

Also Saturday, the 29th annual Gray Ghost 5k Run & 1-Mile Fitness Walk begins at 12:50 p.m. Registration starts at 10 a.m.

And Friday was the Big Parade of Little People; ABC Newspapers has a photo gallery of many of the costumed kids.

None of them, it's worth noting, are liberating cows or tipping outhouses.

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