Zombie Pride: Halloween Happenings in Traverse City

Fall colors and golden grapevines at Chateau Grand Traverse

By MIKE NORTON

I do hope we’ve gotten the rain and gloom behind us so we can get on with the business of enjoying autumn. All I can say about the weather we had this weekend is that it helped freshen the color on the trees and kept me from having to do any raking. But there’s still lots of excellent fall splendor out there, and I intend to enjoy some of it!

I couldn’t help noticing this morning how many houses are sporting Halloween decorations. People in TC sure do love Halloween. Seems like there’s a host of new hauntings, partyings and trick-or-treatings going on this year.

Speaking of which (or should it be speaking of witch?) have you ever heard of a Silent Disco?

Well, you wouldn’t actually hear it, I guess, since it’s silent.  But you could watch one on Oct. 29, when Traverse City adds yet another entry to its list of eldritch fall happenings: the first-ever Old Town Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball. And it’s a spooky sight to behold.

In a Silent Disco, dancers are issued wireless headphones through which music is broadcast via an FM transmitter. It’s the perfect eerie effect for a Halloween street party, since everyone appears to be moving to no discernible music at all. (An added benefit is that non-dancers don’t have to shout at each other over the music, and the neighbors don’t call the cops to report you for making a public nuisance.)

Already known among Halloween cognoscenti for its ghoulish  5K Zombie Run footrace, where shambling “zombie” runners chase down normal-looking “survivors,” and the unspeakable cuteness of its kid-friendly Downtown Halloween Walk, Traverse City seems determined to make itself the Halloween capital of the Midwest with yet another event.

Participants in the 2010 Traverse City Zombie Run
Participants in the 2010 Traverse City Zombie Run

Billed as “the largest Halloween event in Northern Michigan,” the Oct. 29 Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball is being assembled by Porterhouse Productions, which runs the successful Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival in August. As the name implies, it will be held in the city’s historic Old Town district, on Union Street between 7th and 8th streets.

The “daylight” portion of the carnival starts with a Saturday morning “Monster Pancake Throwdown” – a contest among local chefs in this bastion of culinary competitiveness for the title of Best Pancake in Traverse City. Pancakes will be served out with a host of other locally-produced sausages, eggs, jams, syrups and ciders. Family-style fun continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a kids’ costume contest, a haunted bouncy castle, old-school carnival games, Halloween creatures, a pneumatic “virtual hearse ride,” a pumpkin pie-eating contest, performances by local bands and dancers and other fun.

But things really begin to happen after dark, when the streets are taken over by the Monster’s Ball, with local food, wines and microbrews, and music from live bands and DJs. Entertainment will include the last live performance of Michigan dance-rock group Ella Riot (this will be the band’s farewell show), a costume contest featuring premium prizes, and an all-night Silent Disco dance party featuring DJ Body Rock and Wally Sparks (of Ella Riot), DJ Dominate and others.

Tickets for Porterhouse Productions’ Old Town Halloween Carnival & Monsters’ Ball can be purchased online at www.porterhouseproductions.com . Admission for the Monster Pancake Throwdown and Halloween Carnival is $8 for attendees 13 and up and $5 for children ages 3-12. Children ages 2 and under are free. Admission for the Monsters’ Ball is $20 in advance or $25 at the door (if not sold out in advance). The Monsters’ Ball is open to attendees ages 21 and over only – no exceptions.

For more information, you can visit www.porterhouseproductions.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/porterhouse.mi.

Another eerie fall shot at the Grand Traverse Commons....
Another eerie fall shot at the Grand Traverse Commons….
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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
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