October 30, 2003

The Grinch (Inc.) Who Dry-Docked Hallowe'en

Re: the Decline and Fall of Halloween in the Castro ....

I haven't actually gone to the Castro's Halloween thing in years. Used to go every year back in the early 80s, but as I've gotten older (and more cantankerous -- or perhaps just lazy or something), I've come to realization that I generally just don't like celebrations involving big crowds and all. So, these days I usually avoid most types of big street fairs and other assorted crowd-bashes.

Still, hearing year after year about the various changes to the Castro Halloween bash and how every year it seems to become more and more a controlled commercial event, I can't help but feel a bit of a loss. Of something.
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This article Corpy seizes Castro Halloween Bash! has the details about the corporate "hostile" takeover of the Castro Halloween bash. A little excerpt:

City officials have reported that more than 300 police officers will roam the streets of the festival to enforce the drinking ban. The event's website cheerily announces, "As you arrive at the event, you will pass through gates where you'll be checked for alcohol and/or weapons and volunteers from one of our community partners will be collecting donations. Once inside, four exciting stages of entertainment await. Featuring live performers, DJs, costume contests and much more, there's something for everyone this year."

Oh, yeah, party down .....

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I came across this article about Halloween a few days ago when I was indulging in a little general reading. I just couldn't resist clicking on the link when I saw its title -- Halloween: Not just for 'hoodlums and morons'! The first line makes a pretty good and concise point: "A controversial and resilient holiday, Halloween has long had to fend off criticism."

The article goes on to describe quite a few historical instances of the kinds of tugs-of-war over Halloween that have happened between various so-called "reformers" and revellers.

It mentions this particularly interesting (and mostly forgotten) one:

In 1950, the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate recommended Halloween be reformed. They argued it should be renamed "Youth Honor Day" in order to help "direct the activities of young people into less-destructive channels on Halloween day of each year."

I remember hearing of this one before and what this article doesn't include about this attempt of the Senate to reform the holiday is that the "honor" part of this proposed new holiday was not to honor youth, per se, as the title would seem to imply, but that youth were supposed to pledge an oath of honor to behave and be good model citizens on this day.

Uh-huh. I would hope the youth of the time honored Halloween productively and tp-ed a few Senatorial mansions -- thus, showing they understood how to be good American citizens already by a little honorable dissent by tissue.

I don't actually happen to know the whole history of that particular Senate legislative attempt, so I do not know how the Senate's proposal failed. It'd be interesting to know, really.

Just am glad they did.

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So, in a way, the fact that the Castro bash has been subjected to "reform" is no modern travesty, but rather a very traditional turn for Halloween revelling. And it doesn't mean the revel must stop. It just means the revellers will move elsewhere.

As it seems, they always will. As that is, mayhaps, the spirit of Halloween!

Posted by Bat at October 30, 2003 11:12 PM | TrackBack


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