West Hollywood is a city located in Los Angeles, California. West Hollywood has numerous celebrities, and there are quite a number of intriguing events that take place within the city. However, there is yet to be an event more intriguing, fascinating and captivating than the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival. This takes place each and every Halloween, and it is one of the things that residents of this community, as well as those from other parts of the world look forward to annually. This event has been dubbed as the largest street party in the United States, with some years recording an attendance of up to 350,000 people, and this is about ten times the population of this community. This means that most of those attending the carnival come from other countries and states to specifically participate in the carnival. It takes up about 2km of the Santa Monica Boulevard and starts from 6pm until about 11pm, and the admission is basically free. This paper is details my observations during last year’s costume carnival Halloween, West Hollywood.
Preparations for the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival usually begin way back in the year. Most of the people who attend these carnivals start preparing as soon as the festival ends. The carnival organizers, however, start preparing the streets as early as August, marking out the areas that will be cordoned off, and positions for security personnel to keep the peace. Journalists too are given a place to broadcast the event.
For those who go to enjoy their Halloween holidays, preparations begin with deciding which costumes to wear, and designing or shopping for them. For those travelling from other states and countries, preparations begin by budgeting for the trip, and sometimes even saving up for a while, before making travel arrangements.
Last year, preparations included checking online for details on streets that will be open for use, the entertainment lineup, and other surprise celebrity attendances that were to be expected. Given that it was close to the election date, the event was such a bustle of activity with attendance by politicians as well.
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The carnival begins at 6pm on Halloween. However, the streets are usually flocked by many people by that time. During last year’s carnival, there was a political atmosphere reigning just before and after the Halloween party. This is because although there were people dressed as politicians, the party focused on the oneness of the nation and forgot about politics for those few hours. It was a time to exhale and keep off the strenuous political arguments and activities associated with elections in the US.
West Hollywood, popularly referred to as WeHo is usually a hub of activity. Its geographical location within the Los Angeles region makes it a great tourism spot. About 90% of the people who attended last year’s carnival were tourists from various places in the world. One of the tourists was even overheard stating that she had been saving up for over two years just so that she could attend the Halloween carnival. She said, ‘Ever since I read about this event two years ago I decided I was going to attend at least one carnival before I die. And now that I’m here, am thinking of moving up the number to at least five carnivals!’ She had travelled all the way from Australia.
A major attraction at the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival is the costumes worn by those in attendance. While there are always the usual symbolic witch, pumpkin, ghost and other conventional characters from the old Halloween tales, last year saw more current movie characters including vampires and knights being impersonated. The most remarkable costume was that worn by a nineteen year old university student who was dressed like Thor, a lead character in a movie going by the same name. Being in Hollywood, movie characters are a specialty of this community. Thus, when they had to choose costumes, most of them opted for their favorites.
There are several companies that specialize in renting and selling these costumes. They often get into serious competition as early as July, when they start showcasing designs and taking orders from customers. These companies are usually clothing lines, although others are complete Halloween shops with costumes, toys and d?cor for the celebrations.
Last year showed that there is much more to America than just politics. The Halloween street party shoved the heated debates aside for about five hours to allow the people to mingle freely and have fun to the extreme. It was quite a colorful event that saw both local and tourist populations party on the street without inhibition.
As an event that attracts such large numbers of people from other states and countries, Halloween street parties are a major part of the West Hollywood economy. I believe that aside from the extremely successful movie industry, the West Hollywood administration does and will continue to benefit from the Halloween costume carnivals for years to come. Aside from the record business made out of designing and renting or selling the costumes, there is also a lot of revenue generated through the provision of accommodation for the tourists as well as the souvenirs they take home with them after the carnival. From last year’s success, it can be predicted that this year’s carnival will be yet another great one. And as one of the organizers was heard saying, ‘The sky is not even a limit when it comes to the potential of these carnivals.’