Annual Halloween Children’s Parade starts at 3:30 p.m.
Ashland.news staff report
Ashland’s annual come-as-you-aren’t party steps off from the Ashland Public Library at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31 — Halloween — with thousands expected to walk, skip, slither, slide, drift, hover, stalk, shamble and shuffle their ghoulish way to the Ashland Plaza in the annual Ashland Chamber’s Children’s Halloween Celebration.
All ghouls and goblins are beckoned to take part, according to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. Children and their families are invited to participate in the procession and then trick or treat at businesses around town before heading home for their evening of fun.
East Main Street between Gresham Street and Water Street will be closed from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Lithia Way will be set up for two-way traffic needs within the downtown corridor.
With additional activity expected downtown after dark as people from the area come into town, the Ashland Police Department will be joined by police personnel from surrounding agencies to monitor all evening activities within the downtown area, according to an APD announcement.
Enforcement will be strictly administered, the police statement says, when police observe acts such as disorderly conduct, public intoxication, consuming alcohol in public, open containers of alcohol in public, curfew, illegal drug use or any other violations of state law and municipal code.
A brief history of the Ashland Chamber’s Children’s Halloween Parade
By Dennis Powers
The 2023 Halloween parade starts at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the Ashland Public Library and proceeds down East Main Street to the Plaza. In past years, the crowds were 5,000-plus (although the pandemic cancelled 2020-2021) and, as Janet Eastman reported for 2022: “The stars of the show don’t wear a store-bought outfit .…”
This year is no different than past ones: Costumed children and their families parade through downtown and afterwards can trick-or-treat before heading home. And what a spectacle: witches in Shakespearean costumes, tall genies, spining Cinderellas, yellow Big Birds, fiery-red Vampire Devils, green dinosaurs with teeth, yellow/black bees, dark Sci-Fi monsters, and more.
But it hasn’t always been this way. From interviews with long-time residents, this started informally without the city of Ashland or the Ashland Chamber of Commerce officially sponsoring (although “organizing” later) or promoting Halloween. (Groups of costumed adults gathered downtown to have fun or support a cause (from the mid-1970s on).
Families usually didn’t head downtown with their children, as now, but took them trick-or-treating and later to neighborhood or school parties. With mainly Ashland residents, all was over at 10:30 p.m., even downtown. Two parades came into existence: one for the children at 4 p.m., then one for the adults (after dinner) when “it wasn’t yet dark.”
Over time, numerous out-of-towners were drawn here, driven by the media, advertisers (i.e., restaurants), and “to party.” Public safety and crowd control became an issue.
In a 1990 Sneak Preview interview with Vic Lively, then the Ashland police chief, 1986 “was a really bad year. We even put our officers in costume to let them have a good time,” but with serious disturbances, it wasn’t until “4 a.m. before we finally got it shut down.” Then, 10,000 people in 1989 overwhelmed any “crowd control”; after 11 p.m. (when the barricades were lifted), drunk “rowdies” threw bottles and rocks at police cars, porta-potties — with people in them — were overturned, and “sporadic fighting” broke out.
Ashland officials and residents were determined to return Halloween to the “locals.” The costume parade was set for 4 p.m. for children and families, as now, with no later “partying” there, and “disturbances” meant “arrest.”
For the last three decades, this writer has seen the parade as in 2022: Children and families, colors galore, and great fun!
The “brief history” appears courtesy of Ashland Living magazine, where it appears in the October 2023 edition. Sources: Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, “Return of Ashland Halloween costume parade …,” Oct. 31, 2022; Interviews with Ashland “senior” residents (Sept. 1– 6, 2023); Curtis Hayden, “Ashland’s “Infamous” Halloween Night,” Sneak Previews, October 18, 1990, at pg. 8-9.
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