The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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Rutland Halloween Parade continues to grow and flourish

The Rutland Halloween Parade this Saturday evening is the largest and longest running Halloween parade in the country and the largest event in Rutland all year, organizers say.  Every year the parade is different with a variety of old and new marchers, floats, bands and volunteers. But it is the sense of honoring a cherished tradition that remains the core of the parade's success; The Parade is celebrating its 53rd year after all.

Tom Fagan is considered the founder of the parade, which began in 1960. A writer for the Rutland Herald, he was a well-known comic book fan who counted many famous comic artists and writers of the day as his friends. He wrote letters and encouraged his friends in the business to support his efforts promoting what would become the largest and longest running Halloween parade. Not surprizingly, event had a strong superhero theme as Fagan and his comic book friends were often present and in costume.

And it worked in reverse too. Soon the city of Rutland and the parade became popular location in comic books. Batman #237, Justice League of America #103, Amazing Adventures #16 and Thor #207, are just four of over 13 issues that mention Rutland specifically.

Fagan himself continued to be very active in the organization of the parade and was frequently one of the judges up until his death in 2008. There is now a special "Tom Fagan Award" in addition to Best Float, Most Original Float, Most Creative Float, Best Band and Best Marching Unit. Runners up are also recognized in each category.

Today, organizers work hard to introduce new events in conjunction to the parade, every year to ensure that it keeps getting bigger and better. This year a 5K run that starts at 10 a.m. on the day of the parade (registration at 9:15 a.m.) The race is cooperatively hosted by the Rutland Recreation Department and Marble Valley Runners. The website calls it "a ghoulishly challenging run that will feature a 'spirited course', which will include personalities of 'days gone by.'"

After the race the Rutland Rec. Department will host a Pre-Parade Party from 3-6 p.m. at Depot Park where free popcorn and hot chocolate will be offered as well as a rock climbing wall and bounce houses.

The honored Pumpkin Queen will be there representing all the high schools in the area. This year Leslie Hixon of Mill River Union High School was chosen to preside over the Halloween festivities.

Visit Rutlandhalloween.com for more information including a schedule of events, list of participants, parade route and last year's award winners. PEGTV will broadcast the parade live on cable channel 15 or viewers can watch it at www.pegtv.com. The parade begins around 6:30 p.m.