Each year, people of all ages gather in Patterson Park to march in the parade, which is about three-quarters of a mile, or watch it unfold. The sight is nothing short of a spectacle. Gargantuan floats and revelers in wild costumes transform the green space into a treat for the eyes. But the main attractions are the hundreds upon hundreds of paper and bamboo candlelit lanterns, carried by participants, that will light the way.
This year's event starts at 7 p.m. Saturday by the Pulaski Monument off Linwood and Eastern avenues. Megan Hamilton, program director at the Creative Alliance, says this year's "route will take the parade high onto a hill above viewers' heads, so it will look super-cool."
The community also takes part in lantern-making workshops and themed gatherings in the weeks leading up to the parade.
"The event was created to really take back Patterson Park for the neighborhood, to create this amazing, transformative, community-made spectacle that would change how the park was perceived and, in part, how people used it," Hamilton says.
"The theme this year is the work of Lewis Carroll, so the title is Beware the Jabberwocky."
Nana Projects Studio, which came to town in 1999, is responsible for the design and production of the parade. The studio is hard at work bringing Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to life.
"We planned the Lewis Carroll theme so that people, primarily children, will have general understanding of what the [books'] creatures should look like," says Molly Ross, director and principal artist at Nana Projects.
Ross promises "Tum Tum trees," "giant talking flowers," "horses riding knights" and lots of glitter.
For the parade, she says, "we reach out to schools, design and teach workshops, and recruit hundreds of community volunteers."
By now, Nana Projects Studio and Creative Alliance have wrapped up most of their lantern-making workshops, but there's a Lantini Party tomorrow at the Patterson Theater. It's here that Halloween-lovers 21 and older can "make lanterns in a fun, party atmosphere, drink some serious cocktails, listen to a great DJ, and then they come march with all of us on Saturday," Hamilton says.
Nana Projects' Parade Studio has looser age restrictions; take the kids here so they can see what's brewing. Up until the parade, many of the parade's costumes, floats and, of course, lanterns are put together here.
Many of the lanterns in tomorrow's parade will be made and carried by students at Patterson Park Public Charter School and Hampstead Hill Academy, each of which constructed giant floats, according to Creative Alliance.
In addition to the parade, there will be several ways to celebrate Halloween early. Visitors to the Haunted Hamlet, a holiday-themed village, can drink hot apple cider; play games; and take part in the Jabberwocky Jam, which includes such bands as Samba Travao, Mambo Combo's Escola de Samba, Sac Au Lait and The Barrage Band.
"It is all free. We really encourage folks to make a lantern, bring it and carry it in the parade," Hamilton says.
if you go
The Great Halloween Lantern Parade takes place Saturday (rain date Sunday) in Patterson Park. Paraders meet at 7 p.m. at Pulaski Monument; spectators gather at 7:30 p.m. at Eastern and Linwood avenues.
The Lantini Party is 8 p.m. tomorrow at Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Admission is $20; $18 for members. A lantern-making-kit and first drink are free. Call 410-276-1651 or go to lanternparade.org.
The Parade Studio, 3323 Eastern Ave, is open through Saturday. Free. Call 443-919-6980 for hours and more information.