Allentown’s Halloween parade is on, but will be different

Written by on September 21, 2022

Allentown’s Halloween parade is on, but will be different

By Hayden Mitman
September 21, 2022

A photo from the 2018 Allentown Halloween Parade. This year’s will have more emphasis on walking participants, officials say.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown City Council was expected to tackle a non-agenda item at Wednesday night’s meeting: the future of Allentown’s Halloween parade.

In fact, it was the first item discussed.

“I just wanted to know why the city found it necessary to cancel the Halloween parade?” Don Ringer of Allentown asked council members.

But, instead of addressing the issue, council Vice-President Ed Zucal punted it to the mayor.

“I can have the mayor get back to you on that,” Zucal said.

Contacted after the meeting, Genesis Ortega, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, was emphatic that the city’s Halloween parade would return.

“The Halloween parade is not canceled this year,” Ortega assured. “We as a city decided to continue the parade and, instead of cars and floats, residents and families are going to walk the parade route. So it’s a walking parade.”

It’s scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 29.

Flipping the format

Ortega explained that, in past years, floats and cars would drive along a parade route down Hamilton Street, tossing out candy to by-standers. But she said that formula has gotten stale.

“It’s no secret that attendance, over the past few years for the Halloween parade, has been dwindling,” Ortega said.

She said officials decided to flip the parade on its ear.

“We wanted to put the emphasis on safe streets,” Ortega said. “So residents will be able to enjoy the magic of trick-or-treating just walking down Hamilton Street.”

Instead of waiting for candy-tossers to drive by, families will be invited to walk along the parade route – in costumes, of course – and collect treats from residents and businesses along the sidewalk.

“It’s a modern approach, really, on a parade,” she said. “We are a city of 125,000 residents and we wanted to put a bigger focus on our kids.”

She said the city has talked to businesses and residents along the route and they are ready to have treats on hand for the parade walkers to collect throughout the trek.

Lets families participate

The shake-up to the traditional parade, she said, would let families participate in a way they might not have been able to previously.

“Instead of sitting on the sidelines, they are going to be the focus,” Ortega said.

While there won’t be cars or floats, there will be music. Ortega said local high school bands have been invited to march along the route, just as they have in previous years.

Also, Ortega said, the parade route will end along Sixth Street, where the city will hold a Day of the Dead Festival in Allentown’s Arts Park.

“It’s just a really cool combination of the way that Halloween is celebrated and then the way that Halloween might be celebrated in Latin America, in a country like Mexico,” Ortega said. “Knowing that in Allentown we have such a significant Hispanic community, we are really excited to integrate that culture into our celebration.”

Past scrutiny

This isn’t the first year the city’s Halloween parade has seen scrutiny.

Last year, costs for the parade came in at an unusually high $40,000 – which was expected to be pulled from a fund for the city’s homeless.

It was a cost that, former director of Community and Economic Development Leonard Lightner, couldn’t justify.

His own reported costs, which he provided to WLVR, amounted to half of the funds he requested.


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