The annual Little Five Points Halloween celebration returned for another raucous weekend, with hundreds of attendees visiting to watch the parade, roam local shops and participate in a street festival hosted by the Little Five Points Business Association.
Since 2001, the business association has put together the annual event to spotlight the historic neighborhood’s character. The festival is a year-long undertaking, planned only by a network of volunteers and a “dedicated” team of business owners.
But the business association’s secretary Melanie Rabb said the work is worth it with a strong turnout, making a “silly, freaky time” for all.
“In Little Five, you can be exactly who you are on any given day, and that made me think of self-expression,” Rabb said. “So the parade is kind of like our celebration of how Little Five Points is all year round.”
The free festival and parade is the business association’s major fundraiser for the year, thanks to donations and sponsorships. It helps the team put on other local events like the Mardi Gras parade and April Fool’s festival.
The weekend also boosts sales for all the local businesses in the area, like the Little Five Points Corner Tavern owned by Rabb. The fundraising and sales support the area’s economy, particularly during what Rabb called a slow season.
“This event is really important to keeping Little Five in existence,” Rabb said.
The neighborhood’s eclectic character comes through at the festival, full of local artists selling their wares. Tristin Cook, a Little Five Points resident and owner of the jewelry shop Everlost Spring sees the area as a right fit for her “peculiar” art.
“The reason why I create this art is because I really want to play with the idea of what it means to be a child growing up in America,” Cook said. “I think the Little Five Points Halloween Festival specifically attracts the person who is ready to, like, play with these ideas.”
It is only Cook’s second year at the festival, but she said people already recognize her as the “creepy doll lady.” The artist said getting recognized for her art is fulfilling.
“I feel like I found a community that, like, accepts me and is willing to share ideas,” Cook said.
The artist was also asked to participate in another one of the weekend activities, a “Monster Sticker Hunt” hidden throughout local businesses and festival sellers. With the purchase of a sticker book, people could hunt for stickers through the neighborhood using a scavenger hunt map.
The business association asked Cook to design a sticker for the event, which she called a “huge honor.” With her art on display and her best sales for the year, Cook said she feels like she belongs among everybody who’s a little odd.
“This brings out the freaks,” she laughed.
First-time attendee Laura Lenz said the parade and festival capture everything she loves about Halloween.
“I love Halloween, and this is what Halloween is. People coming together, dressing up and being silly,” Lenz said.
The festival goer is already preparing for next year’s event and looking forward to “being silly once more in 2024.”
The Halloween team is still recovering from the busy weekend, but Rabb is always considering how to keep the event fresh and exciting for future years.
“I just try to hold the tradition, but I also want to surprise people,” Rabb said.
Certain components stay the same over the years, like the parade with over 80 different floats. A lot of participants have been in the parade for years and years. The festival also consistently offers live music, local vendors, food and refreshments.
Other parts change over time. For the past three years, Rabb said the festival included a “monster scavenger hunt.” This year was the first time the scavenger hunt worked through artist-designed stickers.
At the community center this year, the celebration also included a free 3D haunted house designed by special effects artist Shane Morton. Tucked between a stage, a “smash-o-lantern” stand and a skate park, the house showcased glowing art from the Silver Scream Spook show creator.
Rabb said the business association looks to artists like Morton when trying to keep people surprised.
“The local art is always going to shift, so that’s going to lead you to something new and creative,” Rabb said. “So we kind of let the artists guide us, you know?”
With volunteer help from artists like Morton, Rabb said the festival is funky, eclectic and still family-friendly.
“This is a great place for creativity to grow,” Rabb said.
Check out Kelly Jordan’s photos from the Little Five Points Halloween Festival.