Did You Know This Minnesota City is the Halloween Capital of the World?
If someone asked me what I think the Halloween Capital of the world would be I would guess many things. I would guess Salem, Massachusetts, St. Helens, Oregon (where Halloweentown was filmed), New Orleans, Louisiana (the most haunted city in the U.S?), and many more, and then Minnesota would be at the bottom. But low and behold the Halloween capital not only of the U.S but of the World is Anoka Minnesota!
So how did a city in Minnesota claim the name ‘Halloween Capital of The World’? well it all started in 1920. According to smithsonianmag.com, it all began the morning of November 1st, 1920 when “Anoka residents woke up to a prank of epic proportions at the hands of some of the local youth. As the sun rose, community members were greeted by wagons parked precariously on rooftops, overturned outhouses, and cows roaming freely throughout downtown and inside the halls of the county jail.” To prevent this from further happening civic leaders of the city banded together to take the trick out of the trick-or-treat festivities. By creating a Halloween celebration that would last all day “would not only prove entertaining for people of all ages but would also curb any attempts at future hijinks,” explains the Smithsonian Magazine article.
So ever Since then, a week-long celebration, which has now turned into a month has occurred in the city of Anoka to celebrate the holiday. The Smithsonian Magazine article explains that what used to just be a parade and a few activities here and there, the celebration now includes “three parades rather than one, including the nighttime Light Up the Night Parade showcasing illuminated parade balloons that travel down Main Street followed by the Grand Day Parade, a three-hour spectacle that weaves through the town. Other events include a pumpkin carving contest, a bonfire, a house-decorating contest, trick-or-treating, a carnival, and a pumpkin-smashing event to compost all those used pumpkins.”
What is cool is that according to anokahalloween.com, past activities have included “pillow fights, a kangaroo court, fireworks display, royalty coronations, concerts, dances, window painting contests, house decorating contests, celebrity appearances, costume contests, style shows, story-telling, races and, in the 1960s, a snake dance that took long lines of participants in and out of area businesses and homes.”
Right now, you may be thinking “Well a lot of cities do this! What makes Anoka so special?” well as explained on Smithsonianmag.com, “in 1937, a 12-year-old boy named Harold Blair traveled to Washington, D.C., after winning a nationwide paperboy competition. Wearing a handmade sweater emblazed with a “Halloween Capital” insignia, Blair met with then Minnesota representative Millard Rice and shared the town’s proclamation.” Thanks to word of mouth, the notion that Anoka is the “Halloween Capital” began to spread across the nation, leading us to where we are today.
So, it is clear; that Anoka takes Halloween very seriously, and what started out as a way to distract the kids from pranking the town, has now turned into a month-long celebration that brings people from all over the nation to join in on the Halloween celebrations. Even after October comes and goes, there is “a gift shop with a small museum that's open year-round and dedicated to sharing the history of how Anoka earned its coveted moniker,” explains smithsonianmag.com.
I hope to visit Anoka in October and share my experience, and I hope you have a chance to check it out as well! All information is credited to the article from smithsonianmag.com and anokahalloween.com.