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Posted on: October 16, 2020

Anoka Halloween 100th Anniversary Celebration Modified for Pandemic

It won't be the celebration they had expected, but the Halloween Capital of the World is determined to mark the 100th Anniversary of Anoka Halloween with spirit.

Perhaps the biggest change this year is the Grand Day Parade, which normally draws tens of thousands of people but isn't feasible in the age of COVID-19. Instead, organizers landed on a reverse parade. People will drive along a designated route to enjoy floats and displays from their car from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 31.

"It's a very hard thing to realize we can't do what we want to do, said Anoka Halloween President Liz McFarland. Anoka Halloween is a non-profit run entirely by volunteers. Many volunteers donate time all year long to help organize the annual festival. McFarland said the group was committed to offering the community some type of celebration, despite this year's challenges.

"We slowly just kept pushing forward and I think that's what makes Anoka different."

Meanwhile, a 100th Anniversary Committee has a coffee table book coming out this month commemorating Anoka Halloween through the years. The committee began planning for 2020's centennial anniversary four years ago. To honor the significant milestone, Anoka Halloween encourages people throughout the city to ring bells, honk horns and sound sirens at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween Night. The bell ringing is inspired by the inaugural Anoka Halloween bonfire held in 1920. 100th Anniversary Committee Chairman, John Jost, said Anoka Halloween all began as way to curb escalating Halloween mischief after the turn of the century. 

"By 1919, folks had woken up on November first to outhouses tipped, farm animals let free, cows loose in the street, there were carriages put up on top of roof tops... things had gotten out of hand, so the townsfolk decided something had to happen."

This year, organizers hope sounds of the community's spirit will ring through town at 7:30 on Halloween night.

"I think Anoka will show it's resiliency," said Jost, "and even though it's not the same, I think it will still be fantastic."

Find a complete schedule of events at

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