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Halloween in Santa Barbara, California

Published by Joanie Cosimini

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The first time I was in Santa Barbara during Halloween as an undergraduate student in 2016, I stayed in my dorm. The second time, I went with my friend to her house to dress up, go to another friend’s house and watch a movie. Next time, I’m going to repeat my first year experience and stay home in my dorm. The reason why I did not have fun the first time was not because when I arrived at my friend’s house my friend wasn’t actually there, but because I had to walk back to her house.

Every time I hear my friends at home say that they want to go to Santa Barbara for Halloween, I don’t discourage them. Nor do I encourage them. I actually hope that they don’t go. Santa Barbara is said to be one of the top places to go for Halloween. It’s true, but event though it is considered a “top” destination, does not make it is not the best destination to enjoy your Halloween festivities.

Everyone talks about going there for Halloween and telling by the seas of people, everyone seems to follow through and actually go-to the dismay of the rest of us, or rather, the few of us who actually belong there.

The only thing that I did enjoy about the experience was seeing some of the innovative costumes. I remember seeing a couple dressed as a spark plug and an electric socket. There was also a fellow dressed as a tissue box that read, “Blow me.” My friends were amused when they saw the guy walking around in a box, but broke out in laughter upon reading the type. I just found amusement in the box. The message? Beats me. I think I might have spotted Waldo several times, and poor attempts at being the Cat in the Hat, but I will give them credit for trying. They have very large shoes to fill. Not all of the costumes you will see will be that fun. It’s not even guaranteed that you will see any while in Isla Vista. The rest of the mobs will be wearing the same thing, especially the females. They will just be wearing variations of the same thing: something to barely cover the top and bottom, nothing much, literally, and nothing interesting at that, or rather, at all.

Driving through the narrow, congested streets of Isla Vista, the college neighborhood right next to the University of California, Santa Barbara, is annoying as it is. Having to drive through the streets filled with stoned, drunk, or merely lost human beings is like driving through wet cement. Walking isn’t any better. Biking or skating? Don’t even try.

If you’re planning on going to Santa Barbara for Halloween, please don’t. If you’re a student and is planning on adding to the chaos, don’t. The county annually spends thousands to keep everyone safe. It’s impossible to talk to your friend next to you while trying to walk through the sidewalks and streets. You have to yell in their ear. Everyone yelling is just adding to the screeching of sirens. Those police cars, ambulances, and associated personnel cost. Some are from other cities and counties called to help. Many people who would rather stay home taking their kids trick-or-treating can’t, because they have to walk, drive or ride around in their uniforms, late at night until early in the morning taking care of people throwing up in their costumes that they prepared days earlier, people passing out in the streets, again, soiling their pretty outfits, and more.

I don’t entirely discourage it. Fun on Halloween is a bright part of the colorful culture of Santa Barbara and Isla Vista in particular. But let’s just keep it safe and keep it local.




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