Kelley Stein loves a parade.
But when a friend suggested that Stein, who works as a marketing manager and has experience in event planning, start her own parade, she scoffed.
“I told her she was crazy,” Stein said Monday. “I told her the only parade I’d ever want to do anyway is a Halloween parade. And we both said, ‘Wow, a Halloween parade. That would be awesome!’ It just happened very organically like that,” Stein said about switching gears on the idea.
“Within six months I was pitching it to sponsors,” she said.
Once she got some key supporters —- The 13th Gate, Gerry Lane Enterprises, the Krewe of Apollo and Greenoaks Funeral Home — Stein moved forward with a non-profit model and formed 10/31 Consortium, an organization of 100-plus Halloween enthusiasts.
“We plan several things throughout year, not just the parade, but the parade is our biggest celebration,” she said.
Last year’s inaugural Baton Rouge Halloween Parade was small — a short route and 3,000-5,000 spectators.
“We have over twice as long a route as last year,” Stein said about Saturday’s 2 p.m. parade. And with the Louisiana Book Festival and Hollydays taking place downtown the same day, parade organizers are expecting parade attendance to grow as well.
“Most importantly, the very first unit in the parade is a truck from the (Greater) Baton Rouge Food Bank. It’s to play into the harvest. The whole idea of 10/31 Consortium is about community, courage and creativity, that’s our motto, so the Baton Rouge Food Bank is representing community,” Stein said. “We’re bringing the entire community together at the parade to donate non-perishable food items directly to the Food Bank as they roll along the parade route. They’re also going to have a team of people pushing grocery carts around the truck taking those non-perishable donations straight from the crowd. Last year, in the first parade, we got 1,600 pounds of food from the crowd.”
Several groups are joining the parade this year, including the Krewe of Yazoo, a local parading brigade that pushes lawnmowers; and a bellydance group. Others marching or riding in the parade include Gerry Lane, The 13th Gate, the Krewe of Partylons, Pack 205 Boy Scouts, The 1 Percent Club, Jack in the Box with its new Jackburger truck, Twin Peaks, Borden Milk and Monster Energy.
Taking the lead of the annual Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade’s alcohol-free zone, the Halloween Parade will have a designated family area along Convention Street between 5th and 7th streets.
“It’s going to be a pretty good route,” Stein said.