Halloween fanatics, many dressed for the occasion, fill the streets of downtown Rutland to see the Pumpkin Royalty, skeletons dancing about the streets, and the final unveiling of top secret floats at the Halloween Parade each year.
This year the 59th Halloween Parade will be held Oct. 27.
Businesses and individuals sign up to create a float or a performance for the parade, which attracts massive crowds: Rutland Recreation and Parks Department Program Director April Cioffi said one year there was an estimated 10,000 people in attendance.
There are around 80 entries this year, Cioffi said.
One new participant is Randy Pratico, who partnered with Miss Jackie’s Studio of Dance to create a float and performance inspired by the movie “The Greatest Showman.”
Pratico’s float and performance will include 60 to 70 participants, around 40 of them dancers he said.
Pratico said he has always wanted to have a float in the parade, but until his recent retirement he never had the time.
He said his decision to use “The Greatest Showman” theme was because of the film’s popularity last year and how much he loved the soundtrack.
“We kind of put it out to people and asked people if they’d be interested in doing it and we got a pretty big response,” Pratico said.
For his float, there will be a circus tent on a trailer and everyone who marches or dances beside the float will be dressed as characters from the movie. Students from Miss Jackie’s Studio of Dance will dance to part of the soundtrack. And two people will hold the 10-foot-tall elephant puppet Pratico created with the help of family and friends this summer, he said.
Jennifer Garrow, owner of Miss Jackie’s Studio of Dance, had dancers in the parade in previous years, so she was thrilled when Pratico, her neighbor whose daughter she taught, called asking her to get involved.
She said the dancers are excited about the parade after rehearsals and costume design this month.
“I just love to see their enthusiasm, their excitement about being a part of this huge parade. It’s a legend in Rutland, it’s what Halloween is all about in Rutland,” Garrow said.
Parents, studio alumni and students as young as 7 years old will dance beside the float, Garrow said.
“There’s a lot of good people we got that are serious and they’re putting money into their costumes, that really have a lot of ambition, drive. It will be a live show, that’s for sure,” Pratico said.
Long time parade veteran Fabian Earth Moving is celebrating its second decade in the event. This year will feature 66 people and two floats, but the theme of the floats is being kept under wraps, part-owner Chris Center said.
The whole month of October employees, family members and friends of Fabian Earthmoving spend their evenings and weekends working on the float, Center said.
“We get so much feedback. We get so many people asking now like, ‘What are you doing?’ We try to keep it kind of quiet just because we like to make it a surprise when we’re there,” Center said.
She said that every year they come up with a new theme, last year’s being a haunted house.
The Halloween Parade is the biggest parade the Rutland Parks and Recreation Department puts together, and it attracts more people than any of their other parades, Cioffi said.
“One side or the other, you are either being wowed by the floats and costumes and themes and music and decorations. Or you’re a part of it, where you might be that creative type who loves to really put on your best show,” Cioffi said.