ANAHEIM GAZETTE, the official Anaheim Historical Society blog
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Larry & Dinah Torgerson – Announcing Kid Ramos 2015 Grand Marshal
Submitted by Dinah & Larry Torgerson
Larry and I have been announcing the parade on Broadway for several years. We love doing it, and enjoy establishing camaraderie with those watching along our section of the parade. A few years ago our Grand Marshal was David “Kid” Ramos, an internationally known and respected blues guitar player who grew up here in Anaheim and still lives here.
Larry always does some research on the Grand Marshal to get some interesting facts for the audience. When David was passing by, Larry gave his “color commentary”, and at the end he announced, “And most important and impressive of all, DAVID IS A CANCER SURVIVOR!” When David heard that, he stood up in the convertible and gave the audience a huge wave, and the audience went wild with cheers!
Hooray!! It was a great moment!
Editor’s Note: The Torgersons not only announce the parade each year, they volunteer tons of hours with the community to mount the festivities. Be sure to look for some pictures of Dinah on her separate memory post, here are just a few of our own “Mr. Wonderful” master builder Larry over the years.
My earliest recollection of the Halloween Festival is when my daughter won best costume in her age group (she was dressed as a Capri Sun juice box) back in 2000 and I joined her on a float with the other winners of the costume contest. We sat on hay bales on a flatbed truck in the afternoon parade.
However, my fondest memories are from more recent years when I helped build many floats including Andy Anaheim and the Rocket Witch.
The Andy Anaheim build team was honored a few years ago when we autographed the wall mural of the float at the local Applebee’s.
Driving the Candy Box float was another fun experience until the battery went dead towards the end of the route and we had to push it the rest of the way.
I also enjoyed building games for the Fall Festival including the Plinko game and Four in a Row.
The camaraderie and sense of community during the time spent building floats is something I will always cherish.
In 1987 the Anaheim Halloween Parade once again came close to disappearing because of a lack of financial support for the then 60+ year old tradition. Earlier that year a group of downtown residents formed the Anaheim Neighborhood Association as a means to more effectively address issues we saw as threatening to our downtown neighborhoods. The more involved we got the more we realized that there was a lot more to improving and preserving our historic neighborhoods and quality of life of residents than just “fighting city hall”. You could fight, and even win sometimes, but to have a lasting positive impact residents got involved in non-political community, neighborhood, and city-wide activities. One of the first of those was the Anaheim Halloween Parade. In October, 1987 we found out the Halloween Parade might not happen that year because they didn’t have the $13,000 for the insurance required by the city. Eventually the city agreed to fund half the amount and loan the parade the other half. Ok, the parade was going to happen, but the loan still had to be repaid. We submitted the attached letter to the editor of the Anaheim Bulletin, then a stand-alone newspaper and the main source of local, city related news, to bring attention to the problem and to hopefully be part of the solution.
ANA donated $500 to the parade and made a “challenge” to other neighborhood groups and local businesses to match it. The Bulletin published the letter in the October 22 paper, along with an editorial of their own accepting the challenge, matching the $500 donation, and encouraging others to do the same.
Since I was not part of the group who was putting on the parade in those days I have no idea what amount was finally raised, but I assume that through this and other fundraising efforts enough was raised to pay off the loan and allow the parade to continue. Amazingly (or maybe not), as we approach the 100th anniversary of the parade, some of the same people from that era are now again involved in the Anaheim Halloween Parade and one of the biggest challenges is, you guessed it, raising money to fund the Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween Parade.Luckily today the parade has enormous support from residents, businesses (both large and small), as well as the City of Anaheim and has become one of the largest, most popular community events in the city. Hopefully that will continue to the 100th Anniversary and far beyond.
Most of us “Oldtimers” recall the Annual Halloween Parade marching from La Palma Park to Downtown, via Anaheim Blvd (old Los Angeles Street). In the years of 1952-1955, however, the Parade used Lemon Street instead.
During that time, our family’s neighborhood friends, the Florence’s, lived at 521 North Lemon, at the corner of Alberta Street.
They had two sons, Jimmy and Johnny, who hung around with my older brother David. They let me tag along.
The boys’ bedroom was upstairs, facing Lemon Street, and an open window, that allowed us to all scramble out onto the wide sloping porch roof to have a front row seat of the parade. What a cool spot to watch from! No adults to get in our way; to this day, it’s still my favorite memory of the Halloween Parade.
The year was 1950 and I was going to Anaheim High School - The AHS band was set to be the first to open the Halloween Parade and I was excited to be twirling my baton while leading the way. Mr. Ted Born who was the leader of the Elks Club band asked to speak to me-( The Elks Club was known then for having a fabulous band with many adult musicians ) Mr. Born told me he would like me to lead their band in the parade and I explained my obligation with leading the Anaheim High Band- He thought about it for a moment and then said "Jo, I think we can do this because I'm sure I can get you a ride from the end of the parade back to the beginning again if you are game" Knowing it was three miles beginning to end and I was in good shape I agreed. During this same year I was giving baton lessons to around twenty girls in exchange for dancing lessons from Dorothy Jo Swanson (A well respected dance teacher from Corona del Mar) She called around the same time and asked if I would lead the " Dorothy and Jo Majorettes" thru the Halloween Parade this year as well ! With many thanks to the Anaheim Police Department who provided the rides from parade end back to parade beginning , I started out leading the amazing Anaheim High Band then got back in the nick of time to the step off with the Elks Club at parade middle. Then with another APD ride assist, I just made it to lead the "Dorothy and Jo Majorettes" marching up the route to end the parade. Both on the second and third times going down the three mile parade route I heard people shouting "Hey Jo didn't we just see you?' which I thought was quite funny. I think I might be the only person to have marched in the Anaheim Halloween Parade three times in one night.
Washington Irving’s 1820 tale of a headless horseman terrorizing the village of Sleepy Hallow is considered one of America’s first ghost stories. The History Channel’s Elizabeth Bradley theorizes Irving’s likely source of inspiration is a translation of the German poem The Wild Hunstman by Gottfried Burger. It’s no wonder then that Anaheim’s Germanic Colonists would consider the story ample fodder for mining Halloween gold.
The Headless Horseman has made several appearances in the Anaheim Halloween Parade throughout the years. Shown here as a charming paper-mache and metal pipe art sculpture in La Palma Park Stadium, 1949:
In 2015, the Horseman was presented “live action” as seen in the staging area for the parade at Broadway and Manchester:
And here, accompanied by the Anaheim Police Department’s Mounted Unit at staging for the 93rd annual Anaheim Halloween Parade in 2017:
Whenever the Horseman rides down the streets of Downtown Anaheim,
you know the Anaheim Halloween Parade isn’t far behind !
I remember walking one block to watch the parade every year while growing up just south of Broadway in the 60s and into the 70s. The Shriners, the bands, but mostly the equestrians were all so exciting to me.
My dad would always yell out to the Sepulveda brothers, Del and Suki, as they rode by on their Spanish dressed horses in their vaquero best. They always yelled “hello” back to him as the silver on their saddles and bridles jingled. They were so impressive, every bit of silver gleamed under the streetlights and the leather was polished to a high gloss. I looked forward to seeing them the most each year.
1949’s Halloween Parade was the 26th pageant…and, for the first time, featured inflatible entries. We aren’t sure if these were displayed as a tip ‘o the hat to the Thanksgiving Day tradition of Macy’s Christmas Parade or someone randomly had access to these balloons, but we do know we like ’em. We don’t totally understand the story behind each of the ballons but that does lead to some interesting theories.
Photo comment shared from Kevin Kidney’s original post: “Might be a Pirate…or could be a cheery Elf. More 1949 Anaheim Halloween Parade brilliance. In honor of the year the theme was “49ners” hence the pioneer woman and the future trendsetting coonskin cap (which wouldn’t become a national craze until 1955).
Also from Kevin Kidney: “The 1949 Halloween Parade literally expanded to include a menagerie of large inflatable floats. This one depicts a whale sporting a dapper mustache, spats and monocle (at least we think it is a whale).”
Group photo with more balloons, we wish we had individual images of that pirate and cowboy for sure.
Anaheim Public Library’s Heritage Center holds treasures that reflect our hometown’s culture and community. Admirably curated and heroically guarded by our hero Jane Newell and her dedicated fellow historians,untold hours may be spent savoring books, microfiche, maps, photos and physical artifacts. The Hertiage Center itself is a wonder…oft times leading to pathways you never knew you needed to follow.
As so it was when a review of the 1959 Fall Festival files lead to a preponderance of Lil’ Abner costumed images. The comic strip created by Al Capp had debuted in August 1934. Of course it was popular, but we couldn’t figure out why the Denizens of Dogpatch proved to be so inspiring that multiple groups would choose to represent them at the 1959 festival…
Until we searched a little further and found a musical version of Lil’ Abner had debuted on Broadway in 1956 and December of 1959 would see the premiere of a grand Lil’ Abner movie musical based on the Broadway show.
We’ve always known Anaheim has deep roots in the art and entertainment communities, so we shouldn’t have been surprised Broadway and Hollywood would reflect in neighbors’ costuming. We’ll let you decide for yourself just how successful these contestants were in realizing their costume goals.
As always, many thanks to Jane and crew for providing the tools to follow this particular rabbit hole.
Here is a close up (maybe too close). Marietta Crone as Lil’ Abner and Fred Boroff as Daisy Mae atop the costume contest flatbed stage, Center Street, Downtown Anaheim 1959.
Over the years, Anaheimers have been inspired to pull out their finest (and in some cases weirdest) costumes in celebration of Halloween. Here for your enjoyment, a compilation of some of our community’s costumed revelry.
As originally posted on the Parade’s Facebook page by Kevin Kidney, our first image is not only a great color shot of our downtown, there is a really nice story to go with it. We were thrilled to find this color slide that went with a 1959 Anaheim Bulletin article.
“With the same bike they rode 36 years ago in Anaheim’s very first Halloween festivities costume contest, Bill and Octavia Payne won first prize this morning as hundreds of spectators crowded the awards platform on Center Street after the costume breakfast. When the judging was done, Bill calmly rode home on the ancient two-wheeler, just like any youngster.” – Anaheim Bulletin, Oct. 31, 1959
Comments from original Facebook post:
Kevin Kidney Love these two! Chianti bottle and roll of TP on the bike.
JoAn Burdick Gottlieb Paynes were well liked I think they are parents of Teddy Lou Payne who was a very pretty and popular girl who graduated in 1948 from Anaheim High School. I think Mr. Payne was connected with Walt Taylor Lumber Company.
BACKDRAFT! These poor ladies were unable to finish their Halloween costumes. Anaheim FF 1951
JoAn Burdick Gottlieb I recognized the girl on the R looking at the screen, its Pat Sullivan, Anaheim High Graduate about year 1948. She was an amazing actress and came from a large Irish Family of about 6 children, we all loved Pat and her infectious laugh.
Robot death grip or “Hi Neighbor” greeting? 1953 Anaheim Halloween Parade “Out of this World” oddities.
Okay, we are not exactly sure what we are looking at or what is going on here? Explanations welcomed.
Three little pigs and one big bad wolf (about to devour one of the pigs’ red bandanas) are awarded the trophy for best costumes in 1964. So, what’s that thing beside them that looks like a walking stack of hula skirts? Why, it’s the little pigs’ house made of straw, of course, complete with red chimney on the roof.
Vicki Johnson That was back before everyone bought their costumes, we made ours every year.
A fleet of “Good Ship Lollipops” sailing down Center Street in Anaheim, California. Early 1950s.
Pie Pan Patty… the undisputed Halloween superstar of 1959.
The Peanuts gang (including the Red Baron!!) at the Anaheim Halloween Parade costume contest. We especially love the way Lucy looks….the legs, the gloves, the dress, everything. Somehow they insisted on the fire hydrant instead of Woodstock.
Just as the article states, “…everyone in Anaheim takes part”.
Eric Schlegel in “Head Salesman” Trader Sam splendor in the 2014 parade. A great detail—probably overlooked on the route—is the “shrunken head” illuminated lanterns that he clutches.
Here we have 2016’s adorable Catrina at the Fall Festival.
It’s not really Halloween without man’s best friend getting into costume. 2016 Anaheim Fall Festival.
2019 Fall Festival cuties with recreation of 1948’s Anaheim Halloween Parade Trolley.
We’d love if you’d like to share your costumes from the parade or festival over the years. Please comment below and if you’d like to send pictures, please email email@example.com.