Turning the corner from West Fifth Avenue onto Broadway, nearly 50 floats made up of local organizations and businesses participated in this year’s Broadway Halloween Parade.
The floats traveled a little less than a mile south down Broadway toward Alameda Avenue. Local marching bands, “Thriller” dancers, a train of hearse cars and even Parrot Heads and bumblebees took over the street for the event, lead by Councilmember Jolon Clark riding his bike in costume.
Erin Claxton, who helps to organize the parade with the Broadway Merchants Association, said that the parade has grown in more ways than one over the years. The first year, the parade started at Third Avenue. The association decided to expand to Fifth in order to include more of the businesses on that section of Broadway.
Attendance has also grown by leaps and bounds, Claxton said.
“Our first year, we had no idea what to expect,” she said. “We would have been happy if 1,000 people came.”
Instead, 2,500 people attended the first year. That number jumped to 15,000 in the second year. Claxton estimated that between 20,000 and 25,000 attended this year’s parade on Saturday, Oct. 19. She added that the Broadway Merchants Association partners with the Denver Police Department for event safety, and that they also provide crowd estimates.
The association opened the event up to different types of vendors this year, which meant the parade had more floats, Claxton said.
Three years ago, the businesses in the association wanted to come together to create a community event that would highlight the different shops available on Broadway. Claxton said that many people already know about the bar and restaurant scene along the corridor, but that they wanted people to learn more about the retail businesses as well. A Halloween event seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“Denver is well known for the Parade of Lights and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade but there’s never been anything this,” Claxton said. “We want it to be a community-friendly event that brings together this eclectic and funky vibe that Baker Broadway has.”
For the Fraser family, the event is a fun opportunity to take the kids out and enjoy the parade. Their daughters, Sienna and Nicole, dressed up in their costumes and collected candy from the floats as they passed by them.
Melissa Fraser said this is the second year the family has attended the parade. She said she enjoys it because “it’s fun to watch everybody get in the spirit.”
Many of the businesses that participate in the parade, spend months on their theme and costumes.
Members of the nearby Overland Park Neighborhood Association picked pollinators as their theme, towing a flowery trailer as bee-dressed residents handed out honey candy and flower seeds.
The Wizard’s Chest, a costume and gaming store located at 451 Broadway, had a tarot card theme. Bridget Doyle, a staff member at the store, began sewing the costumes back in July. This is the store’s third year participating in the event. They were joined this year by Koven, a local drag group.
Doyle said that because Halloween is one of the store’s busiest times of year, many of the staff members don’t go out on the actual holiday. The parade is their opportunity to celebrate and show off their costumes.
Another group that Claxton said has participated every year is the local chapter of the Parrot Heads in Paradise, a charitable organization influenced by the tropical lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett.
Claxton said that her favorite part about the parade every year is to see the costumes and themes that people come up with.
“We felt that this year that everybody brought their A game,” she said. “Everyone has their own idea of what Halloween means to them.”
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