By Seth Daniel
Some 30 years ago Charlestown was a far different place than it is today, and Halloween in Charlestown was a far different event than the community-driven, family-friendly celebration that it is today.
Not to say there was anything particularly sinister about Halloween in those days, but there was no organized effort and vandals often seized the day.
It’s no longer the case.
This coming Saturday, Oct. 31, on Halloween, hundreds and hundreds of kids, families and adults will march around the Monument and down the Training Field to celebrate a safe Halloween – and they’ll do so on a milestone year, the 30th Anniversary of the Monument Square Halloween Parade.
“It is the 30th Anniversary this year and it marks the occasion that eight families got together to create a community event,” said Dianne Valle, a long-time organizer of the event. “Though the generosity of the community, it has spread to people of all walks of life in Charlestown and from all areas of the Town. This event is great for everyone, from the children to the elderly. It’s a community tradition and it’s hokey, yet successful…I feel honored to be able to have participated in a unifying event like this in the neighborhood for so many years. It’s Americana at its best.”
This year’s parade looks to be bigger and better than ever – if not only for the fact that Halloween is on a Saturday and the event can start earlier than normal and go longer.
At 5 p.m., participants can gather at the top of Monument Avenue at the Massachusetts Gate (look for the glow-in-the-dark necklaces). Then, at 5:30 p.m., the Tony Barrie Bank will lead the Parade around Monument Square area and down to the Training Field.
Trick or Treating will take place throughout the Parade and down to the Field.
Paraders should keep careful watch for Mother Goose – who is originally from Charlestown – on the route. On the Training Field, there will be the ‘Haunted But Not Scary House’ and the ‘Pirate’s Cove’ (Charlestown at one time did have pirates as well).
This year, also, the National Park Service will once again be participating in the event – using it as a way to reach out to the community.
“Superintendent (Michael Creasy) is offering great community support and we enjoy that relationship,” said Valle. “We’re glad to have the National Park Service involved. It’s been enjoyable to work with the National Parks and Bill Foley to plan such a heartfelt and fun-loving event that keeps the community safe and keeps the Monument from being vandalized.”
It is hoped that Mayor Martin Walsh might attend this year, and there will be plenty of entertainment.
The Warren-Prescott Choir, the Boston Latin School Step Squad and the Tufts sQ! A Capella singers will all perform. Additionally, for the older kids, Turn It Around will have a photo booth set up.
This year, the Parade will participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, which allows prizes at some stops as an alternative to candy for kids who cannot or choose not to have candy.
For example, while the Pirate’s Cove will give away Gold Chocolate Coins, they will also offer pirate tattoos and Gold Necklaces.
There are hordes of sponsors once again, too many to even name, but virtually most every business and organization in the community.
Most of all, Valle said, goes tremendous thanks to the neighbors and residents who live on Monument Square and the Training Field.
“The overwhelming power of all this is that people are so giving,” said Valle. “The people of Monument Square and the Training Field area are enormously hospitable They spend money to decorate and dress up and spend hours at their gates giving out candy. I’m always looking for new ideas to keep the event new and improved. We always strive to keep it family friendly because there are so many little children.”