Halloween in Athens

Home

Profile

Contact Me

Welcome to Athens' Halloween parade!

Halloween is celebrated on October, 31. I am not going to tell you about its origin. One can read about it if he goes to the related Web sites I am giving below. Now Halloween is just a festive occasion. In many countries, people decorate their homes and yards with images of ghosts, goblins, witches, skeletons, and jack-o’-lanterns – scary faces made of pumpkins and illuminated by candles. Children dress in costumes and visit houses in their neighborhoods trick-or-treating.

In the US, this holiday is celebrated on the largest scale. Many cities here have costume parades. They say the most outstanding Halloween parades are held at Greenwich Village in New York City and in San Francisco. As for me, the Halloween parade of 2004 in Athens, OH, was nothing less than outstanding. And this is not just my opinion. Ohio University students do their best to make the parade picturesque. They are always well-prepared for any festive occasion and are ready to party at any time. It is not accidental that, according to the Princeton Review, OU is the number-five top party school in the US. Athens’ parade  has a 31-year history. A lot of people visit Athens on Halloween, even after they graduated from OU. Some of them do not skip a single parade.

Since the second half of the 1990s, Halloween in Athens has been more and more associated with drinks and sex. There are a lot of people shouting ‘Show me your boobs’ and urging the women in the upper-floor windows to remove their tops. This windows’ exhibiting and other ‘nude behavior’ have become a regular feature of Halloween parade. The desire to have a crazy night attracts more and more visitors from other cities and universities. On Halloween weekend, Athens swelled to almost twice its regular size. It went from a population of 21,232 to about 50,000. The number of arrests has increased, too. For instance, arrests went up from 60 people on Halloween Saturday in 2003 to 98 in 2004. However, in 1998 the arrests reached a peak with 318 for Friday and Saturday.

The City council and Halloween committee have developed ways to make the celebration safer and more organized. Personally I listened to the police officers’ instructions twice, just before Halloween 2004. It was strongly recommended not to stay outside after 11 p.m. However, my wife and I enjoyed the parade till late, went home at 1 a.m. and did not see any violations.

Halloween in Athens has many faces, and we saw at least two of them: the Halloween parties and the parade. Our neighbors invited us to visit them in the evening. My wife cooked some delicacies as we supposed it would be a regular potluck dinner. However, it was a costume party. So the guests, even old ladies were dressed as angels, pirates, and other characters. The guests performed their roles, joked, laughed, and appreciated the delicacies which everyone brought there. Not only the house and the yard were decorated, but also the table. It turned out people from all neighborhood were invited to this house. We noticed that the guests were rotating to free the space for other guests, so we said ‘bye’ to everybody and left, too.

After the Halloween party, we decided to visit our Ukrainian friends. They had gone shopping to Wal-Mart and brought some groceries for us in their car. We were happy because Wal-Mart is located ten times farther than our friends’ place. When we were walking through the city the number of Halloween parties surprised us. There seemed to be a party almost in every house on our way. The windows and doors in every house were open and lots of people dressed in costumes hang around, drank beverages, and had fun outside because the houses were already overcrowded.

We loaded the groceries into my big backpack and two bags and went home. At that time, the streets were crowded with people enjoying themselves. Only my wife and I had to carry our heavy load. You may imagine how upset I was because I had not seen anyone carrying stuff in bags or backpacks home from a grocery store. Athenians go shopping by car. We used to go shopping in the evening and thought our walks to be very healthy. As a rule few people could see us in the darkness and sympathize with us. I was afraid this time hundreds of people were sorry for us.

Suddenly I heard someone exclaim behind me: ‘Who is this maniac?’  I understood it was about me and it was so offensive that my response would be a cause of a fight. So, it would be better to pretend that I had not heard him and not to look back. I only told my wife that actually he was right and did not slow down. It took me a few seconds to realize that those words were not offensive. The guy did not know that I was loaded with food. He knew that backpacks are definitely used to take textbooks to school. Thus, he assumed I chose a costume of a diligent student who was not able to part with his backpack, overloaded with textbooks even on the holiday. He appreciated my idea and possibly hoped to hear compliments on his costume, in response. I looked back but it was too late - he was lost in the crowd. I was excited and at that very moment I promised myself to write an essay about this accident.

We hurried home to get rid of our load, take my camera and go back to the parade. On the way to the parade, we dropped in on our Ukrainian friends again and took them with us. The girls were so scared by stories about the previous Halloween parades that did not want to go there alone.

I don’t know who the costume winner at the parade was. To me, the best one was a guy portraying Gollum - the character from ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I saw him far away in the crowd twice, but I just did not want to leave my company to find him. So, I chose his picture from the Athens News’ Web site, along with the other pictures, to illustrate this essay. I recommend visiting the Athens News photo gallery to see other faces from Halloween 2004. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera to the neighbors’ party, so the photo gallery on my Web site includes only the pictures I took at the parade. One can see I met only friendly smiles there.

As to the violations… There is something in the Ukrainian proverb saying ‘A pig will always find a muddy puddle’.

 

References
The Origins of Halloween
Halloween 1999 in Athens, OH
Halloween 2000 in Athens, OH

Home / Up / Profile / Contact Me