pranks have been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that the city of Anoka, Minnesota, organized a city-wide celebration back in 1920 to divert the town hoodlums from wreaking havoc on Halloween night. It seems the fine citizens of Anoka weren’t so keen on finding their cows walking down Main Street, their outhouses overturned and their windows so soaped up that they couldn’t be opened.
The First Anoka Parade
The events held in Anoka for Halloween 1920 were no small potatoes. Civic leaders and business people met and planned for weeks to plan a Halloween parade and other activities that would occupy the teenagers long enough to keep their cows safe in the barn and their outhouses standing upright.
All of the efforts paid off when a Halloween parade marched down Main Street at 7:30 in the evening that year. The parade consisted of local bands, the fire and police departments, the National Guard and several other well-known organizations. It also featured hundreds of costumed children, who were treated to popcorn and candy after the parade was over. To cap off the evening, a large bonfire was held at nearby Bridge Square for parade participants, local children and their families.
Ten Years Later
By 1930, the Anoka Halloween Committee had expanded the celebration to include many additional activities which took place during the last two weeks of October. They included a dance, coronation of royalty, fireworks, concerts, business and home decorating contests, style shows, costume contests and more. It is estimated that the annual Halloween parade had 2,000 participants and 10,000 spectators a mere 10 years after it began.
Halloween Capital of the World Proclamation
In 1937, 12-year-old Anoka resident Howard Blair went to Washington DC to request that Congress name the city the Halloween Capital of the World. They obliged, and Anoka has retained that title ever since. Over the years, the festivities have attracted parade participants and spectators from across the Midwest. With outhouses and family farms mostly a thing of the past in these parts, the parade and other festivities designed to protect them lives on.