Daily Egyptian

Carbondale hosts Halloween events, first time officially in 18 years

By Emily Cooper, Staff Reporter

After 18 years without Halloween fun, Carbondale is bringing back the holiday’s spirit with family-friendly activities.

Starting on Friday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. Carbondale will host a two-day event full of family-fun activities.

According to Steve Mitchell, the Carbondale’s economic development director and Halloween Committee Chair, and Amy Fox, Public Relations Officer, the earliest known Carbondale Halloween parade took place in 1914.

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The real party began on Saturday, Oct. 31, 1978, Fox and Mitchell said. Bob Dylan played at SIU Arena that night as part of SIU Homecoming, and after the concert, crowds filled the Strip, also called S. Illinois Avenue.

Fox and Mitchell said the planning for this Halloween began on Feb. 14.

This is the first time for the event, they wanted enough time to put their ideas into action, Fox and Mitchell said.

Fox said after the eclipse last year, the city spent time investigating with local staff and residents along with businesses and organizations.

“During these sessions, people continued to say we need to bring the fun back to Carbondale and plan more events,” Fox said. “That’s when the lightbulb went off.”

This year’s Halloween will include food, movies, a 5K, trick-or-treating, a pumpkin glow, and live music from bands like Los Straitjackets, who were previously showcased on Conan O’Brien’s show “Conan.”

“We wanted to make sure there were family-friendly activities as well as events students and adults could attend,” Fox and Mitchell said.

Mitchell said there are a lot of community partners involved in bringing Carbondale Halloween back.

One of those partners includes Carbondale Main Street, an organization helping to improve and promote the downtown district of Carbondale.

“Halloween is a Carbondale thing,” Reed Hoekstra, assistant director at Carbondale Main Street, said. “People know Carbondale Halloween, so I think it’s great to bring festivities back and have a control over the activities and provide for the community and make it a happy experience again.”

Hoekstra said back in the ’80s, Halloween in Carbondale used to be more lively. After riots and liquor were taken away from Carbondale during this time, Halloween had stopped in general.

“This year will be the true year when the city and other organizations begin to make it hyped again, by creating a large event behind it,” Hoekstra said.

Optimistic Halloween will bring out a crowd of both locals and college students, Hoekstra said he hopes it will make them more excited about it being back.

“I hope the festivities have a great impact and make people less scared of Carbondale’s Halloween,” Hoekstra said. “It’s going to be a new experience that I think Carbondale is ready to have.”

Fox and Mitchell said the strip will be open while the activities are going on downtown.

“We [PK’s] got limitedly back in 2006,” Curtis Conley, manager of PK’s, said. “Some people on the strip had to stay closed. However, if you were 21 and up you were able to be open.”

The history of the ’70s and ’80s were wild partying, Conley said.

“Everyone has seen the pictures and heard the stories. A lot of people bring up the bad ones with the cars being flipped over in the riots,” Conley said. “Most of them were pretty safe and a good time.”

Conley said he supports anything that tries to bring people downtown.

“This Halloween looks really good,” Conley said. “I saw the lineup for the outdoor shows and it’s just phenomenal. It should be a good time.”

Fox and Mitchell said the proceeds from most of the events will be used to help fund organizations like Carbondale Boys & Girls Club, the I Can Read Program, Green Earth, Carbondale Crime Stoppers, and many more.

“Any time we can bring people to Carbondale, show off our community and roll out the red carpet, it’s a good thing,” Fox and Mitchell said.  

For more information about Halloween festivities, visit www.carbondalehalloween.com.

Staff reporter Emily Cooper can be reached at ecooper@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @ecooper212.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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