When the sun was still out on the last Saturday in October, a group of zombies did a step routine. A line that seemed a hundred-people-long, many in costume—little chickens, pumpkins, tiny buff superheroes—waited for hayrides around Patterson Park. Others exercised their creative muscles making lanterns for the parade, added mementos to the Día de los Muertos altar, lolled around a pumpkin patch, guzzled cider and hot chocolate and snacks. (We also spotted at least one Healthy Holly; unconfirmed whether she partook in such treats.)
The 20th anniversary of the Creative Alliance’s Great Halloween Lantern Parade had a warm energy—and a moderately warm temperature, and when it chilled down as the night came up, we packed in close to watch the parade. Glowing sugar skulls and bats floated through, along with buoyant jellyfish, bicyclists with bubbles and lit-up clouds above them, stiltwalkers with wavy iridescent wings, Egyptian gods, Aztec gods, a swimming narwhal (by Dan Van Allen), and much more punctuated by brass bands and marching bands and drumlines and samba and conjunto.
To see a project or event pop up year over year for 20 whole years is really something in this town, where such things have a tendency to lose steam, funding, or power. Gina Caruso, executive director of Creative Alliance, attributes the consistency to dedicated work and partnership with their community. “Over the years, the parade and the park have transformed as we’ve increased the number of Baltimore-based community bands, performers, musicians and artists who reflect the many cultures and backgrounds of our city,” Caruso says. “Creative Alliance works year round with a number of partners, including Friends of Patterson Park, to make this event even more transcendent than the year before. It’s quite a feat, but the support and love from the community keeps the park glowing year after year!”
Photo Essay by Phil Laubner, courtesy of Creative Alliance