Witches, goblins, and ghouls made the first appearance at the original Irvington Halloween Festival the night of October 31, 1927. A parade of masked and costumed adults and children marched down Washington Street led by the Indianapolis Military Band. Stores and streets were appropriately adorned to the delight of the mob of merrymakers in what was then the largest gathering in Irvington’s history. After prizes were handed out in various costume categories, the evening’s events concluded with a street dance at the intersection of Johnson Avenue and Washington Street with music provided by the band. Organized by the Irvington Commercial & Welfare Association three days prior to the event, the success of the festival exceeded all expectations.
Halloween night continued to be celebrated with a parade, music, and revelry along Washington Street until 1929, and possibly into the early ’30s, with Irvington merchants providing numerous prizes from two dozen eggs for the best animal mask to a $25 new or used car credit for the “best costume representing an auto or any of its parts.”
In October 1946, the Irvington Businessmen’s Association brought back the Halloween Festival to the great pleasure of Irvingtonians of all ages. Templates of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Pluto were placed in The East Side Herald as possible subjects for window paintings. The Irvington Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was placed in charge of the parade which was judged by former Indiana governor Henry Schricker, Indianapolis mayor General Robert Tyndall, Indianapolis postmaster Adolph Seidensticker, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wilbur Shaw, Indianapolis Star dramatic editor Corbin Patrick, Indianapolis News retail advertising manager Ted Young, and Indianapolis Times promotion editor Art Wright. A badminton set was presented to Wayne Craven who won first prize in window painting, and a small radio was given to Larry Galuppo who won first prize for his parade costume, “Redi-kilowatt,” the mascot for the Indianapolis Power & Light Company. Indianapolis WISH radio personality Reid “Chuckles” Chapman was the emcee for the evening event that drew a crowd of 9,000 with 500 costumed children marching in the parade.
The Irvington Businessmen’s Association would continue to sponsor the Irvington Halloween Festival for the next 19 years. Each year noted Indianapolis personalities would be event judges and emcees. Eastside high school marching bands from Howe, Scecina, Warren Central, and Franklin Central participated in the parade or other Festival events. By 1951 the Halloween Festival had expanded to include a talent show, street dance, music festival, and poster contest in addition to the window painting and parade. The first Miss Irvington to preside over the Festival was Howe High School’s Barbara Shugert in 1953. Two years later Howe High School’s Harold Ooley and Scecina High School’s Joan McAtee were selected, respectively, King and Queen of the Irvington Halloween Festival.
In October 1958 Irvington businesses held a month long Irvington Fall Fiesta Days featuring two Mexican burros to be raffled off at the Halloween Festival. By this time, radio and television had replaced the royal court at the Festival, and radio station WXLW’s “news mobile unit” covered the announcement of the window painting winners and drawing for the burros live on the “Billboard Show.” Television station Channel 4 taped these events and the parade, led by the burros, for replay with Les on “Dateline Youth.” This year also saw not-for profit organizations being asked to have concession stands along the parade route.
Over the years the Halloween Festival has been held in all types of weather, but only once has the parade been cancelled. Rain and heavy winds on Halloween night 1960 resulted in no parade because it would be “nothing but a breeding ground for colds and viruses.” Unfortunately, this experience with bad weather governed future planning, and although window painting would continue, there were no parades during the remaining years that the Irvington Businessmen’s Association sponsored the Irvington Halloween Festival.
The Irvington Halloween Festival had developed through the 1950s into a multi-day event, but beginning in 1961, activities were confined to one day. Children painted windows in the morning of Saturday, October 28, and prizes were awarded in the afternoon.
Although there was no parade, young and old alike were “warmly and cordially” invited “to appear in the area in full costume to add to the spirit of the season.” During the afternoon, the Howe High School German Band roamed throughout the Irvington business district playing German songs and merchants handed out noisemakers to the children. This format for the festival continued for the next two years, but the candle in Irvington’s jack-o-lantern was beginning to flicker.
In 1964 a free kiddy matinee at the Irving Theater was added to the truncated festival, and this new “tradition” continued in 1965 with Irvington’s children being entertained with a showing of the sci-fi movie “Konga,” six cartoons, and a Three Stooges short. Irvington store front windows were devoid of images depicting ghosts, goblins, pumpkins, and haunted houses on Halloween 1967. Children were once again invited to a free matinee, but even this treat vanished the following year along with the accompanying sounds of All Hallows’ eve revelry in Irvington’s business district.
Witches, banshees, and little goblins would not return to Irvington until Saturday, October 31, 1970, when windows in the business district were once again filled with images of Halloween. John and Becky Readle revived the Irvington Halloween Festival with the cooperation of Irvington school PTAs, the Irvington Union of Clubs, Irvington churches, merchants, and many other helping hands. That evening, the Howe High School band led the parade of costumed children down Washington Street from Audubon Road to School 57’s parking lot. The Festival grew the following year with the addition sidewalk booths operated by Irvington scout troops and PTAs, and a jack-o-lantern contest. A “Teen Spook Dance” was organized on Irving Circle after the parade.
When the Irvington Community Council assumed responsibility of the Irvington Halloween Festival in 1974, the continued growth of the community’s annual October event was assured.
Thanks to Steve Barnett, Executive Director, Irvington Historical Society, for the submission
A Brief History of Irvington
Irvington was founded by Jacob Julian and Sylvester Johnson, who developed 300 acres into residential plots four miles east of Indianapolis. Named after 19th century writer Washington Irving, Irvington was annexed by the city of Indianapolis in 1902. Western Christian University (now Butler University) relocated to Irvington in 1873 and stayed there until 1928.
The neighborhood is situated on Washington Street, which is the route of the historic National Road, a National Scenic Byway. US 40 was formerly routed along the road. Through the early 1900s, a commuter rail/trolley system ran from Irvington to downtown Indianapolis along US 40. Ideally located just 10 minutes East of downtown Indianapolis, Irvington is a strong and growing community of quaint and magnificent homes located on tree-lined historic streets. Successful restaurants, coffee shops, retailers and parks all contribute to Irvington’s charm. The Irvington community is founded on strong ties to its historic past and is a great place to raise a family.
Upcoming Events at Irvington
Past Events at Irvington
November Irvington First Friday
Irvington First Friday is back for November.
Art, Snacks, Drinks, Music and Fun
Friday, November 5th from 5 to 10PM.
* Hampton Designs Studio. Featuring three amazing local artists, Little BoCreeps, Moonstone Fairy & SheClay All Day.
* Irvington Vinyl & Books: Join them for sticker making + Wax Cat on the 1s and 2s spinning jazz and hiphop ❤ FREE and OPEN to the public.
* Frontdoor Home Design. Showcasing artist Teresa Barber Gooldy
* Beth Clary Fine Art Gallery
* Irving Theatre:
Join them for First Friday Music with Delta Duo on the deck behind the Irving Theater. This First Friday Music line-up includes DELTA DUO, AUDIO DINER, STEPHEN WINDSOR, and DOG DnA.
* Black Sheep Gifts
* Josephine’s in Irvington
* Magick Candle
* BaZaar-Oh-Vintage. Spinning vintage vinyl all evening
Mark “Going” to this event, and be sure to check the event page to see all the Irvington businesses who are added and will be participating.
Tags: First Friday, Art, Main Street, local, Irvington, Live Music
This is it, the event that started it all. Join tens of thousands of fellow Halloween enthusiasts for one of the oldest and largest Halloween festivals in the country!
Free admission, all ages welcome. This is definitely an event for the whole family…
Come see artists, merchants, a battle of the bands, costume contests, pumpkin carving, a parade, music, beer, and more food trucks than witches have cauldrons (in case you’re not sure, they have a lot).
Schedule of events to follow!
Tags: nonprofit, The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, street fair, vendors, food trucks, live music
Save the date and plan to visit ARPO’s booth at the Irvington Halloween Festival! We will have pet costumes available for purchase and some other spooky surprises. Due to weather, no adoptable animals will be present at this event.
Tags: nonprofit, The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, street fair, vendors, food trucks, live music, Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership (ARPO)
Let your faithful companion join in the fun by entering your dog in this year’s Canine Costume Contest! Come on out with your dog and let Irvington learn just how adorable your costumed cutie can be!
Adult + Dog
Child + Dog
(Matching human and dog costumes are encouraged – but not required!)
More information can be found at https://www.irvingtonhalloween.com/contests
Tags: nonprofit, The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, street fair, vendors, food trucks, live music, canine costume contest
Compete in a pumpkin carving contest, there will be categories for both children and aduls!
Tags: nonprofit, The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, street fair, vendors, food trucks, live music, pumpkin carving contest
Show off your Halloween Spirit and dust off those costumes. Come join in on the Marty Powell Costume Parade!
Tags: nonprofit, The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, street fair, vendors, food trucks, live music, parade
Tune in to hear Spooky Stories written by your neighbors. What Halloween is complete without the reading of Sleepy Hollow by our surprise guest reader.
Contestants are encouraged to submit an original poem or short story with a Halloween theme. There is a limit of one entry per contestant. The contest is open to Irvington and nearby local residents of all ages. Winners will be honored at the Night out on Sleepy Hollow event, Thursday, October 28th. Winning stories will be shared on the Irvington Halloween Festival Website. Winners will be notified on Monday, October 20th, 2021.
General Contest Rules & Guidelines
● Limit of one entry per contestant
● Entries must be e-mailed to [email protected] no later than Monday, October 18th. Late entries will not be considered
● Entries must be emailed in a fully editable file format (i.e. Microsoft Word, Google Doc, OpenOffice, Rich Text)
● Entries must be appropriate for general audiences. Any entry deemed inappropriate or that fails to meet the contest criteria outlined may be disqualified at the discretion of the contest coordinator or judges
● Entries cannot have been previously published
● Entries must include the following details within the document:
o Author’s First and Last Name
o Author’s Category (Grade in school or ‘Adult’ if not applicable)
o Name of School (if applicable)
o Author’s Home Address
o Author’s Phone Number (or parent’s)
o Author’s Email Address (or parent’s)
Contest judges will select the best short stories and poems based on scariness, theme, originality, entertainment value, and writing quality. There will be a winner selected within each of four age group categories. Categories are: Adult, High School, Middle School and Elementary School.
Poems can be of any length. The poem does not need to rhyme or fit any specific poetic form.
A short story can be a personal narrative, memoir, true story or any kind of fiction story. We will consider stories that are between 800 and 10,000 words in length; please do not send anything longer or shorter than this. Judging will emphasize writing quality rather than length. Contestants may include illustrations to enhance the storytelling. Works must be submitted in an editable format. Any illustrations must be submitted in a separate file that is attached to the email. For more information about Historic Irvington Halloween contests and events, visit www.irvingtonhalloween.com.
Tags: writing contest, spooky storytelling, Irvington Halloween Festival
Please join us in Historic Irvington (Indianapolis/46219) on Friday, Dec 6 from 5-10PM for the annual Holiday Open House. Sponsored by the Irvington Business Association & Discover Irvington. Gather the family and get ready to share holiday cheer with fun family friendly events with your local Irvington shops and restaurants. Loads of fun including photos with 🎅 at George Thomas Florist, Meet the Grinch at Black Sheep Gifts, Reindeer Makeovers at Hampton Designs Studio, Music & Jazz at Irvington Vinyl & Books. Drop off your decorated gingerbread house at BitterSweet between Dec 4th and the 6th. During the holiday open house, vote for your favorite and decorate a delicious sugar cookie. NEW IN 2019- Tree Auction at Artisan Realtors. Bid & vote on your favorite tree decorated by local Irvington Businesses. Kids can also color & enter the coloring contest at Artisan. Irvington Lincoln Square will be open for Dinner during the Open House with delicious specials! And more!
Tags: Shop Local, Historic Irvington, Holiday Shopping
This Saturday! September 14th! All day!
In honor of being named “Best Neighborhood” your Irvington “Best Of” winners are getting together for a Saturday discount day. Start your morning at Coal Yard and then take a stroll down Washington and catch deals from Irvington Vinyl & Books, Hampton Designs, George Thomas Florist, James Dant, and Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza!
It’s looking like a great date or family shopping day in the IRV!
Irvington Vinyl & Books: 20% off new books and new vinyl.
Hampton Designs: 10% off purchases and a free box of cookies when you spend $25 or more. Also buy one item, get one half off all jewelry by Best of Indy Winner, The Local Radish.
Coal Yard Coffee: Buy one get one 50% off.
James Dant: 15% off all short sleeved clothing.
Jockamo: “A toast to our customers!” with half-priced bottles of wine, $4 draft craft beer, $5 Jock-tail Cocktail drinks and $15 Macrobrews Beer Bucket.
George Thomas Florist: Free roses for guests.
Tags: Shop Local & Independent, Irvington, Discounts, Saturday, Family-Friendly
This is the centerpiece of our festival. Join tens of thousands for one of the oldest and largest Halloween Festivals in the country!
Free admission. Artists! Beer tents! Music! DJs! Canine costume contest! Human costume contest! Food trucks! 5k run!
Costumed or no, we want to see you!
More details coming soon.
Tags: Historic Irvington Halloween, Fair, Market
Playground Productions Studio is the place to be after The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival for the OFFICIAL AFTER PARTY!!
When: October 27th from 6 – 11 pm
Address: 5529 Bonna Ave #10, Indianapolis, IN 46219
6pm Dog Costume Contest hosted by: IndyVet and Dr. Speiser
Must complete submission to be considered: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NHS6X5Y
Adult Costume Contest hosted by: Jay Red
Cory Sites Music
Angel Burlesque, Lola Lavacious, Katie Angel
Vape Bar and Cloud Comp with DarkStar Vaporz
Food with Lincoln Square Pancake House
Beer with Black Acre Brewing Co.,
Whiskey with Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery
Vendors, Visual / Performing Arts
Psychic Readings with Lady Sandra
Tattoo giveaways with Fountain Square Tattoo
Hosted By: Light Matter Promotions
Tickets Available Now:
Official Sponsors: DarkStar Vaporz, WTTS, HelloFresh, A’s Legitimate New & Used Tires LLC, The Naked Monkey, Level UP Gaming Lounge, Lincoln Square Pancake House, IndyVet , Real Event Enterprises, Hampton Designs Studio and Shop, Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery, Play-On, Inc., The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival
Flyer : The Art of Kasey May – commissioned by Division By Chasm
Tags: Irvington, Halloween, Festival, After Party, Playground Productions