PAWTUCKET—While some people like to embrace the dark side of Halloween, there are those who see it in a different spirit...one that celebrates “community.” That was Oak Hill resident Molly Garrison's sentiment when she and some of her neighbors conjured up the idea for a Halloween parade.
Called Oak Hill's “Hootenanny Halloween Parade,” the event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 5:45 p.m. It begins at Hillside and East avenues, heads left on Roberta Avenue, turns right on Ridge Street, then left on Raleigh Avenue and ends up at the small grassy area on Oak Hill Avenue. Local children, adults and their friends of all ages are welcome to participate.
The Police and Fire departments will provide an escort, and there will be music by the Neighborhood Acoustic Jam Band (with local musicians invited to join in). The Three Sisters restaurant at 1074 Hope St., has donated prizes for the children, Munroe Dairy is donating beverages, and Plouffe's food truck will be available selling take-out items.
Garrison, who works in external affairs and fundraising development for Rhode Island PBS, said she essentially put the parade together in about five days. It was a bit of a scramble, since she had to apply for a parade permit from the city, but with the help of municipal officials such as City Councilor John Barry and Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer Herb Weiss, along with other Oak Hill residents, she was able to organize it, tell neighbors about it and promote it throughout the neighborhood. She is also hoping that it becomes an annual event.
While Garrison has two young children, she said the parade really isn't about Halloween, but more about celebrating the youth of Oak Hill and coming together as a neighborhood. “It's about community. In this modern age, community is a wonderful antidote from what ails us these days,” she said.
Garrison added that the neighborhood also tends to be a Halloween destination for children from other parts of the city, and the parade will offer a safe, fun and family-friendly activity.
Originally from out of state, Garrison has lived in Oak Hill for the past six years, and says she has found the neighborhood to be very friendly and welcoming. “My neighbors are all wonderful...kind, talented, and diverse people. There are both young families and people who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, which is nice,” she said. “From all the differences, we can learn from each other. It provides a different perspective.”
Sarah Jagger, another Rhode Island transplant and Oak Hill resident, has a design background and quickly produced a flyer to advertise the event. As the mother of a young child, she said that she, too, appreciates the close-knit feeling of Oak Hill. “It's so nice to develop a sense of community. I'm relatively new to the neighborhood, so I'm excited to meet more of the neighbors. It would also be nice if this can be an annual event that the kids can have to look forward to,” she said.
Garrison said that since Three Sisters is a favorite gathering spot for many Oak Hill residents, she approached the owners about helping out. They agreed to sponsor prizes for the children who take part in the parade. “I'm grateful for their support,” she said. “We've gotten support and encouragement from numerous city officials and residents.”
Herb Weiss, who has been an Oak Hill resident for almost 19 years, said that when he heard about the idea, he was glad to help steer Garrison through the proper municipal channels. He noted that other Pawtucket neighborhoods have their seasonal events, such as Fairlawn's Christmas tree lighting and Slater Park's Winter Wonderland, and said he likes the idea of Oak Hill starting a tradition of its own.
Weiss said that his two-and-a-half-year-old stepgranddaughter, Lily, will be participating in the Hootenanny Halloween Parade. “She is counting down the days until Halloween. She's very excited,” he said. “This is the first annual parade, and I hope the neighborhood embraces it, and that it will be around for decades.”