Two of our all-time favorite artists are Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, who have consistently created some of the best-looking art, sculptures and other merchandise ever sold by Disney—not to mention the only parade I’ve ever loved, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. A few years ago, they moved to Anaheim and began helping the city revamp its now-91-year-old Halloween parade.
Once called “the biggest Halloween party in the nation,” it drew up to 75,000 spectators, was televised in LA and Orange County, and featured celebrity grand marshals like Babe Ruth and Jodie Foster. In the early ’50s, the parade even included Disney characters and floats designed by Disney artists like Yale Gracey to introduce the public to the idea of Disneyland by representing the different lands.
The parade’s popularity waned as Anaheim grew, and it was ultimately discontinued. But a small group brought it back in the late ’90s. With their re-creation of the 1953 “Flying Sasser” float in 2012, Kidney & Daily began a fruitful association with the Anaheim Halloween Parade that has resulted in the addition of 15 new and re-created vintage floats.
You can hear a great podcast interview with Kevin Kidney detailing the complete history of the parade on Mousetalgia.
This year we finally got to see the parade in person. It was held the Saturday before Halloween and started at 6pm, following a route that headed east of Highway 5 on Broadway, threaded through Anaheim’s tiny downtown on Center Street, and ended at the newly revamped Anaheim Packing District. I held down a spot on the curb near the end of the route while Patrick grabbed us a fantastic Mexican dinner from Urbana inside the Packing House. You want to be on the west side of the street at that point because it’s divided and the parade stays on the left (if you’re facing north) as it heads toward the Packing House.
It was hard to get non-blurry shots, so if you just want to see the floats close-up, scroll down a bit. They parked all of them next to the Packing House after the parade so folks could take photos with them.
We missed getting a shot of Charles Phoenix in his spangly cowboy finery, unfortunately. But we did get some of Tony Baxter and Bob Gurr riding in the parade!
At last, Kevin & Jody’s floats started to come along!
After that it was another 20 or 30 minutes of marching bands, police and fire vehicles, civic clubs, and basically every child in Anaheim wearing even a suggestion of a Halloween costume.
When it wrapped up, we and everybody else dashed into the Anaheim Packing District for dessert (hot chocolate affogato from Dark 180—they even topped up my hot chocolate when it ran out before the ice cream did!). Then we took a turn through the Harvest Festival in the park, which was basically a postage-stamp-sized collection of carnival rides and the floats parked on the grass.
Our action photos of the mobile volcano and tiki bar were terrible, but here they are parked…
Wish they’d left the lights on for this one. It looked so great!
Maybe Patrick’s right — maybe we could have just shown up after the parade to see the parked floats, but there was a goofy, small-town charm to the parade that made it worth seeing at least once. Check it out next year!