If Sarah Palin, Vanilla Ice and Pinocchio happen to strut down a runway in the Short North Saturday night, don’t worry — politicians, wannabe rappers and Disney characters have not taken over Columbus.

HighBall Halloween, a masquerade-themed street festival that mixes costume contests and couture fashion, will take over High Street between Third and Fifth avenues on Halloween night.

Debuting to great success last fall, HighBall does not feature typical Halloween gore, said John Angelo, executive director of the Short North Business Association, which organizes the event.

“What we’re trying to do from the Short North perspective is to celebrate Columbus’ creativity and the artistry of masquerade,” he said. “The whole event is just eye candy.”

A children’s costume contest and the Dogtober Howl-o-ween pet contest will be the first events of HighBall, which runs from 4 p.m. through midnight.

The Costume Couture Fashion Showdown at 8 p.m., will feature 12 local designers who will present four original pieces and one couture costume.

Terri Stevens, a Columbus native who was featured on season five of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” will return as a guest judge, along with first-year judge and current season six designer Althea Harper, who is from Dayton.

An 80-foot runway with two projection screens will be used for the shows, in addition to remote screens in areas far from the runway.

The general public has a chance to compete in the HighBall Costume Contest, which is divided into five categories: Celebrity Look-a-like, Cirque Fantasy, Kings and Queens (drag), Tag Teams (duos and groups) and Simply Splendid, the “leftovers” category.

“If you’ve put a lot of effort into a costume, there’s no other place in Columbus that will give you such a high profile,” Angelo said.

The first round begins at 9:30 p.m., when participants gather in a designated area. An hour later, the judges announce 40 of their favorites for round two, the runway show. After the runway portion, the judges select a winner from each category and then the overall winner.

Thousands of dollars in cash and prizes will be awarded this year, Angelo said.

The Short North Business Association has partnered with about 50
sponsors for the event, Angelo said. Regular admission is $2.

Anyone heading to HighBall on the COTA No. 21 Bus, which makes several stops in the Short North, can request a flier from their driver for free admission. Also, people who attended Saturday’s OSU football game can present their ticket from 4 to 6 p.m. to get in free, Angelo said.

South Campus Gateway will provide a free shuttle for customers who park in the Gateway garage. The shuttle will leave from Barnes & Noble on 11th Avenue and High Street and run from 6:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.

Some of the highlights of the party include two live DJs, “micro-stages” featuring cirque performers, concessions, specialty mixed drinks and ample opportunity to people-watch.

Angelo said he expects attendance will grow in the event’s second year because of word-of-mouth from last year’s HighBall.

“This is fun for everyone. … The way I look at it, five percent of the population is going to pull out all the stops and create the best costumes, and the other 95 percent want to see what they did.”

When HighBall ends at midnight, many of the bars and clubs in the Short North will continue the party with costume contests, karaoke and live music, Angelo said.