This year, Halloween is set to become a two-day festivity in Columbus’ Short North Arts District.
HighBall Halloween is a Halloween-themed block party set to be held directly on High Street in between the Short North and the Arena District, roughly between W. Goodale Street and Convention Center Drive, Friday and Saturday.
HighBall Halloween is a celebration of the Short North Arts District and Columbus’ artistic talent. The event is put on by the Short North Alliance, which aims to promote area businesses, and features a wide variety of art forms, including music, dance, makeup and costume design.
This year marks the sixth anniversary of HighBall Halloween, and for the first time, the event is set to span two days.
This year’s producers of HighBall Halloween planned for the celebration to have a multicultural feel. The theme of this year’s event is based off the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, said John Angelo, producer and founder of HighBall Halloween. The event is slated to have face painting and other Day of the Dead staples, like skulls made out of sugar candy and dancing puppet skeletons.
“We tapped into that concept a little bit last year,” Angelo said, explaining that the multicultural theme has been greatly expanded for this year’s HighBall.
Ohio State’s Department of Design, Center for Latin American studies, Multicultural Center and Department of Fashion and Retail Studies have been heavily involved with HighBall this year, along with other departments.
Connie DeJong, a professor of Fashion and Retail Design at OSU, has been working with the Short North Alliance in coordinating OSU’s involvement with the event.
“We’ve partnered with the honors and scholars (departments) in learning the Catrina face painting,” DeJong said. “We have brought in a multicultural experience.”
DeJong also described some of the departments’ involvements with HighBall Halloween, including the design department’s role creating two dancing skeletons for the celebration.
Despite this year’s emphasis on diversity and the Dios de Los Muertos celebration, HighBall Halloween is still focused on supporting the Columbus art scene and the Short North Arts District, said Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance.
“A significant portion of the proceeds go to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Pandora said. “We want to keep the Short North Arts district a thing.”
As the visionary behind the event, Angelo agrees with that sentiment.
“The Short North really celebrates individuality and creativity,” Angelo said. “It is about celebrating people designing really wonderful, over-the-top costumes.”
The event kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m., there is a 5K run called the Costume Zoom, which begins on the south side of HighBall. Participants are encouraged to dress up in their best costumes for the run.
“It’s more of a parade than a run,” Pandora said.
The race costs $50 to register and includes entrance to HighBall.
Friday’s festivities are set to continue after the run with a wide variety of events, including the Costume Couture fashion show, which is a display of looks and outfits that combine high fashion with costume design. The fashion show is slated to feature musical performances from local bands and DJs and the Grim Reaper’s Dance Party will follow the event, featuring DJ Cale.
This year’s HighBall Halloween is also scheduled to showcase a performance from makeup artist and former Columbus resident Tommy Pietch, who was featured on season three of SyFy’s special-effects and makeup artist competition, “Face Off.”
“He will be transforming these two dancers into creatures,” said Angelo. “Then, they will perform on stage.”
Friday festivities also include a performance from drag queen Nina West, who is slated to do a stage show featuring performance art, comedy and political satire.
Saturday, HighBall Halloween continues from noon to 1 a.m. featuring a kid’s costume contest at 1 p.m. and a costume contest for dogs at 3 p.m.
The celebration is set to continue Saturday evening with the culminating event of HighBall Halloween: the general public costume contest at 11:10 p.m., which encourages citizens to show off their most creative and elaborate costumes and compete for cash prizes as well as specialty prizes.
The general public costume contest is slated to occur alongside various bands, artistic murals and a tailgate for the Ohio State football game against Penn State at 8 p.m.
General admission is $5 at the gate. Admission is free for children 12 and under from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
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