Working on a 100 Year Old Anaheim Halloween Tradition

It may only be August, but trust me, Halloween is on the minds of many! Including Patrick and myself. Lately we have been spending our weekends volunteering to prepare for the Anaheim Fall Festival and Parade, and it’s a big deal this year, because the Fall Festival turns 100! I hope to do a large reflection on this unique Anaheim tradition closer to the holiday, but today I wanted to bring you a behind the scenes look into the top secret float warehouse and talk about how floats are brought to life.

Andy Anaheim float, which features Andy, an anthropomorphic letter A, wearing a marching band hat, and playing a large drum that reads "Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween parade"

A spooky, anthropomorphic tree grins.

Myself, wearing a set of black coveralls, with a patch on the upper left featuring Andy Anaheim, and text reading "Anaheim Halloween Festival" sitting inside one of the floats under construction, holding a paint brush.

The parade consists of school bands, car clubs, local businesses, and amazing hand made floats, ranging from little push carts to ones towed behind trucks and even farm trackers to ones built atop small golf carts. For me, the highlight of the parade is this collection of floats, which are hand crafted by a team of volunteers that I’m proud to be a part of. They start with ideas which get approved, then concept art and often even miniatures are made to work from. Using mostly wood, but sometimes plastic and even cardboard, we start to bring these ideas to life. I’m not too handy at the construction side of things, mostly I just hold something as it’s being cut, or be a gopher for Pat, who is better versed in the construction phase thanks to years of building theatre sets in high school and college. Once the saws have stopped spinning the floats get painted, which is where I come in. Everything needs to be based out in a single color, and then we go in layering, putting in the details and finishing touches, sometimes including lighting effects! Volunteers sometimes bring their dogs, and often we have “help” from the cats who live at one of the nearby businesses.

Patrick using a saw to cut wood.

A small trolly float, which is painted orange and yellow, and features a sign reading "Silver Anniversary Anaheim Halloween Parade Oct 30 7pm Orange County Fair Oct 28-31

A float shaped like a Victorian haunted house, with a purple roof, blue trim, and green exterior.

A paper mache giraffe head sits among other festival elements such as a cat game and small cat push float.

A volunteer paints a piece of metal that will be attached to a float.

A sign reading "Our Hometown Hero" on one of the floats.

Echo, a light brown dog helps keep us company.

Spray paint and paint cans line a shelf.

A large purple spider wearing a top hat

One of our volunteers works on a float.

A spooky, anthropomorphic tree float.

A hang tag reminds float drivers of what to do, and features Andy Anaheim.

A green skull sits atop one of the floats.

Pat placing a piece of wood inside of a float to built a bench.

A little ghost sits in a gold frame as part of one of the floats.

A large skeleton wearing a pink hat, a float that is part of the Day of the Dead portion.

Oreo, a black and white cat inspects a can of paint on a table.

A sign reading "Modjeska Maiden" sits atop a jungle cruise like boat.

Myself, wearing a set of black coveralls, with a patch on the upper left featuring Andy Anaheim, and text reading "Anaheim Halloween Festival" sitting inside one of the floats under construction, holding a paint brush.

Most of our floats are used for multiple years, and need cleaning, touch-up, and repair work. I did some repairs on an older flat while a new float was being constructed, then moved to painting a new float, which I can’t wait to share with you and the city! It’s going to be out of this world!

If you live in, near, or visiting Anaheim on October 28, then you won’t want to miss the Anaheim Fall Festival and Parade! The daytime festival includes crafts, artists selling their work, food trucks, costume contests and more! You can learn more via the website and Instagram, which is currently counting down the days to the parade and doing volunteer spotlights! Do you have any Halloween traditions in your town or have you already started to think about Halloween?

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