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Communities that KARE: Anoka Halloween keeping spooky traditions alive

The Halloween Capital of the World is marking 100 years of thrills and volunteerism.

ANOKA, Minn. — Since 1920, nonprofit Anoka Halloween has thrived thanks to its volunteers.

"It has exploded. It’s grown tremendously in 100 years. Of course, they took a couple years off during World War II," explained longtime supporter, Pat Ward.

She and her husband have been involved in Anoka Halloween since the early 1970s.

"We've made such wonderful friendships through the years," said Ward. 

More than friendships, Ward has seen Anoka Halloween change lives.

"Well, I think one of the great things that has come out of the committee is that we started a scholarship program with our ambassadors that represent Anoka, and I think that's very important," she explained.

Equally important are the wholesome memories made by people, including current Anoka Halloween President Liz McFarland.

"My favorite part of Halloween truly still is the Grand Day Parade. I just remember being a little girl, living two blocks away from Main Street, and sitting there and waiting for candy or a clown or a marching band to walk by," said McFarland.

With the challenge of COVID-19, the parade committee had to think outside the box.

They decided to make the Grand Day Parade into a drive-by experience.

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"I'm pretty impressed with our organization. We persevered and we're determined to provide events for our traditional premier activities that we offered for many, many, many years," said McFarland.

It may not be the centennial celebration Anoka Halloween expected, but McFarland said it's an honor to keep the celebration alive, no matter how difficult the year has been.

"A hundred years means to me a lot of hard work. A lot of gratification, a lot of dedication," she said. 

In addition to making the Grand Day Parade a drive-by, the Big Parade of Little People is going virtual.

To keep up with the activities, head to anokahalloween.com.