HighBall Halloween had its moments. At any point in the night, or at the turn of any corner, the event could have been rated PG to R, depending on attendees’ costumes, interactions and at times, reactions to their alcohol.
From politicians to superheroes and classic children’s movie characters, almost every character imaginable invaded the Short North and the Arena District for Columbus’ largest Halloween party Saturday night.
The streets were packed and often hard to navigate in the high-heeled boots I wore that night. I stopped in amazement at some of the costumes, shook my head at others and still others made me cringe.
Some of the gruesome face-painting of zombies and man-eaters made me feel like I was a part of a horror movie. Last-minute costumes made me cringe the most. While I didn’t have a costume this year and wore street clothes to the event, at least I didn’t hastily try to make a costume by taking a permanent marker and writing “BOO” across the front of a T-shirt. Wearing a tiny black dress and pinning a tail on the back also does not automatically turn you into a cat, so please, next year try a little harder to create a costume, or just wear your normal clothes.
The Cookie Monster attended Highball and also tried to make a political statement as he walked through the festival with his cardboard sign reading “Free Big Bird,” calling attention to a comment Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made about cutting funding to PBS.
A Michelle Obama impersonator was at the event, fully equipped with Secret Service in tow.
Some of my favorite costumes for the night were Nemo from “Finding Nemo,” Woody and Buzz from “Toy Story” and the Village People who sang “Y.M.C.A.” down the streets as they walked past the bars.
The streets were kept safe as the classic super heroes were all over the area. Batman and Robin, Captain America and even the Hulk seemed to be enjoying a night out. Of course all the female versions of these costumes were also out Saturday night and I often laughed at the girls in skimpy costumes complaining about how cold it was outside.
DJ Pons and Illicit Kitty performed and the crowd formed a giant dance party in the middle of High Street between Goodale Street and Nationwide Boulevard.
There was a costume contest for the general public and also one for designers. Categories for the general public contest included Most Brilliant, Best Transformation, Best Extreme Face Painting, Best Old School and Most Artistic. The public could enter the contest as an individual, a duo or as a group and top prize was $1,000 with every category-winner receiving a prize bag. Second place received $500 and third $250.
As part of “Dogtober Howl-O-Ween,” attendees dressed up in costumes with their furry companions. One dog was disguised as a tiger with stripes painted onto his fur. Another pair paid tribute to the “Peanuts” comic strip, incorporating Snoopy’s doghouse. The doghouse was a bicycle cart, with pictures of Woodstock on the sides of it. The owner and her dog matched as they were both dressed in Snoopy’s pilot gear and the dog rode in the back of the cart.
After Highball officially ended at 1 a.m., many of the event-goers migrated to the nearby bars to continue the party. Gaswerks Bar, located at 487 Park St., had a line out the door and around half the building with people waiting to enter. This was an opportune time to people-watch and get a good look at many of the people in costumes that night.
Though Highball was a good time overall, part of it made me nervous. I drove myself and some friends to the event. The streets were packed with pedestrians, which was to be expected, but it was difficult to navigate through the streets and arrive at the event without the constant fear of striking a pedestrian.
Several times throughout the night I saw folks who enjoyed the festival a little too much and should have realized they were far too intoxicated to continue drinking as they struggled to keep their balance when walking. One young woman sat alone on a bench outside one of the bars and vomited onto the sidewalk as people walked passed her. It was just past 1 a.m. and she had already drank herself into a incoherent stupor. It seemed she was too intoxicated to hold up her head and I wondered if she was alone downtown or if her friends left her behind.
Halloween is best enjoyed when you can remember it, not when you’re blacked-out at a bar, so drunk you can’t stand up on your own or that your friends have to take turns baby-sitting you to make sure you live to see the next morning. I hope the people I saw who had too much to drink also had a friend or a kind stranger looking out for them to help them get home safely Saturday night, because every Halloween is worth remembering on a good note.