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Highball Halloween Grows to Two Days in 2013

Walker Evans Walker Evans Highball Halloween Grows to Two Days in 2013
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The biggest Halloween festival in Central Ohio returns for a sixth year later this month, so attendees should already be planing their costumes. Highball Halloween will shut down a portion of High Street near the Convention Center on October 25 and 26 for a weekend party that you won’t want to miss.

We spoke recently with Highball Coordinator John Angelo to find out what else is new this year at Highball. Our Q&A can be found below:

Q: First off, can you tell us a bit about the switch to a two-day event? Why is year number six the best time for the expansion?

A: Actually, it’s been part of our development plan from day one… a full weekend celebrating the artistry of hair, makeup, fashion and costuming. We’ve even toyed with the idea of industry-related events the week prior to HighBall. But why 2013? Let’s just say a certain sports team gets most of the credit. Each year we have scheduled HighBall based upon OSU’s football schedule. Until this year, we had never scheduled HighBall on the same day as an OSU home night-game. We weren’t sure we have the street cred to be that risky.

Twice in the last five years, we’ve shifted HighBall to Friday night. While we were quite successful on both of those occasions, it was extremely difficult to manage set up and program all the elements we wanted. On Fridays, we cannot close High Street until 6PM (versus first thing in the morning on Saturdays). That means we have a mad rush to finish the stage, tents and load in. It’s pretty much impossible to program anything prior to 6PM. That means elements held first thing in the evening (such as Dogtober and the kid’s costume contest) suffer on years when the event is held on Fridays.

This year we knew OSU had a home game against Penn State on the 26th. We considered our standard option… shift everything to Friday night. Then we thought about how much we wanted to program and how well the event has been doing. So we talked to the city to see what they thought. Given our location at the south end of the Short North, they were very comfortable with us closing High Street, even on a game night. I don’t think that would have been an option in our old location at 5th and High.

So we shifted Dogtober and the kid’s activities to daytime slots on Saturday. Built up the stage programming. Added new features. And decided to take the plunge. Two days of HighBall celebration. We’re ready. Columbus is ready. Let’s do it.

Q: What are some of those new features you’re adding this year?

A: Wow, where to start? Beyond moving to two days, there’s so much more to share.

5K Costume Zoom – Fun Run on Friday night. Registration has already begun. Carmen Owens, proprietress of Surly Girl Saloon, is working with Premier Sports to launch this highly-anticipated and extremely entertaining run. We’re shooting for a thousand runners in year one.

Sugar Skulls y Esqueletos is a tribute to Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We’re working very closely with Columbus’ Latino community to program some wild stuff, including giant Sugar Skulls, giant dancing skeleton puppets, a papel-picado-inspired fashion show, a stage show (“The Grim Reaper’s Dance Party”) inspired by traditional Catrina faces, kid’s activities and workshops. It seems everyone’s getting involved in this aspect… DJ Cale, Latino Arts for Humanity, Global Galleries, and a host of affiliations from OSU including the Design Department, the Department for Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Council of Graduate Students, and others.

Nina West Stage Show – Nina has been our hostess since day one. This year, she’s bringing Columbus a stage full of her wit and zaniness in a one-hour variety show. I’m particularly looking forward to introducing our audience to Nina the comedian… Nina the entertainer. I suspect many of them think of Nina merely as our hostess and emcee.

The Ohio State vs Penn State Tailgate and Watch Party – Yes, we’re pandering! But we’re doing it with a HighBall flair. The game will be shown Saturday night on a jumbo-tron with all kinds of entertainment, games and contests… including a costume contest for the tailgaters.

Tommy Pietch and Dance 614 – Tommy is returning from LA after a stint on FaceOff to share his talents with Columbus. We’ll spotlight Tommy on a special stage in the heart of HighBall as he performs a cinematic transformation on two dancers from Dance 614. After the transformation, the dancers will take to the main stage in a surreal modern dance.

Kid’s Day is a whole new scene. Saturday noon to 4:00PM. It’s geared primarily for kids 12 and under. We’ll be featuring an all out costume contest with every contestant taking a turn on the main stage. We’ll have bounce houses, a petting zoo, a sugar skull workshop, a Catrina face-painting workshop, games, and stage shows, including the Shazzbots… who are extremely popular with children.

Pagetech Limited, our presenting sponsor, is bringing an über-cool second stage that I’m really looking forward to seeing. It will be home to our special features (such as Tommy Pietch and other artists).

We’ll be selling VIP Tickets on Saturday this year. Since we introduced Party Within a Party two years ago, people have been asking how they can get into the private pavilion next to the main stage. This year, they can! We’re introducing a VIP Ticket option for Saturday night. The tickets are $75 and include access to the heated pavilion, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, 2 drinks, private bars, private restrooms, the OSU game on flat screen TVs, valet parking and courtyard access to watch all the stage productions. Pretty sweet.

The band line up is also superb… We have Wonder Twin Powers, Fabulous Johnson Brothers, MoJoFlo, Yeah Babies, Illicity Kitty, and The Professors.

There’s also a new general public costume judging process… Our pre-selection judges will stroll thru the event on Saturday night (from 7PM – 10PM) and invite participants to be finalists to be on the runway… 40 will be selected. Then our judges and the audience will make the final decisions. Nearly $2k in cash prizes at stake.

Q: The festival has always changed locations, but this year it’s in the same spot. What do you like about the location by the Convention Center to make it the best fit?

A: SPACE! PARKING! SETTING! We’re pretty much looking at the last open High Street space in the Short North. All the vacant lots are being developed. The sidewalks along the Convention Center provide great off-street property for us to place tents, staging and props. This allows us to get as much setup completed as possible before we close High Street. Without this private space, we’d never be able to set up the event. The Convention Center is also a great backdrop for HighBall. The funky angles and faces of Eisenman’s architecture gives us built-in panels to project on and light up. To the south, the city skyline also adds a big-city feel to the event. The Hilton and Hampton (which are both in the zone) are ideal for visitors. And then there’s the parking! Ten thousand spaces within a few blocks. We can’t beat it. When you’re inviting 20,000 of your closest friends over for a little party, you have to think about where they’re gonna park… though we are also working some options with COTA to cut down on the number of cars.

Q: What sort of themes or trends do you think we’ll see in the costumes this year? Any particular costume you’d love to see some one wearing, or something you absolutely don’t want to see?

A: Trends? Hmmm… Superheroes are all the rage right now. Iron Man, Superman, Wolverine, Green Arrow… It’s pretty crazy how popular superheroes have been the last three or four years. I always love to see anything that glows! ‘Electric Avenue’ is the theme of Highball this year. It’s funky, it’s flashy… LEDs, EL-wire, UV reactive, lasers… There’s also a big emphasis on Day of the Dead and Catrina faces (think Day of the Dead Circus… white faces with black markings and colorful, swirling accents). How about a Catrina nurse or Catrina doctor? Then there’s mashups… what do you get when you combine two polar characters? How about Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Pee-Wee Herman? I’m not big on basic Halloween fright… rotting flesh… oozing wounds… Not so much. HighBall is about the fantasy side of Halloween.

Q: Anything else we should know this far out about Highball 2013?

A: A few things come to mind… early registration for the HighBall 5K Costume Zoom means you pay less to participate! Also, though the general public costume contest is Saturday night (the finale of HighBall), we’re encouraging attendees to bring it both nights. It’s a costume and masquerade party that spans two days.

We’re giving away two VIP tickets ($150 value), which anyone can register to win online at our website.

Also, if anyone would like to volunteer on one of the nights, we can always use another pair of hands. Let us know. There’s also a link on the website to sign up.

More information can be found online at www.highballhalloween.com.

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