Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2017

MegaHalloween, DeLand, USA: Trying on Identities

This essay also appeared in the Stetson University student newspaper, Hatternetwork, November 18, 2017, http://www.hatternetwork.com/arts_culture/megahalloween-deland-usa-trying-on-identities/article_7bb073fa-cc73-11e7-bd79-cbcaad1ce9a1.html,

And, with the title “A Time to Try on New Identities,” in the West Volusia Beacon, November 20-26, 2017, page 7A.

Halloween was as big as ever on Minnesota Avenue, with about 2,000 creepy and cute outfits adorning people from far and wide and from many social backgrounds.  This year, students from my Modern US History class joined me on my front lawn to talk with our animated visitors about how they think up their ideas.  Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2016

Halloween Night: Window to Fantasy

Fantasy ruled the night.

I’m not referring to election night, but to MegaHalloween on Minnesota Avenue in DeLand.  I met about 1000 festive and creepy characters, and there must have been at least that many more on the street, making it a carnival.  From my random sampling, as the social scientists say, I got a hint of the taste for fantasy among the outfits with people who graced my front yard.  And fantasy-fueled imagination also meant a lot of characters crossing over into all kinds of combinations.

People dress in outfits from the world around them, like the 4 Doctors including 1 Dr. Decay (how does this one stay in practice?), 1 Tacky Tourist, 6 Football Players and 5 Cheerleaders (including 1 Gothic Cheerleader), 5 Police Officers (one was “Buff”) but only 4 Robbers (1 had his “gun ready” and another was also a Nun!), and 1 Overweight Gen Xer.  They tap long spans of history such as with Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, a Renaissance Woman, Bob Marley, 4 Native American Indians, including 1 Pocahontas, and 2 Flappers; and the natural world with 4 Butterflies, 3 Foxes, including 1 with a sword and 1 downright “Foxy Fox,” 2 Cheetahs, 1 Bunny, and of course 2 Spiders. Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2015

…with two essays–a teacher-student pair…. Introducing Stetson Math Major and popular culture enthusiast, Chris Finkle

Paul Croce
Small Change Agents at MegaHalloween

On Halloween night, everyone got their play on. It’s a time for looking at the world with a twist. And in DeLand, FL, costumed creatures of every stripe converged—well over 2,000 from many towns and many social backgrounds—straining the sidewalks and front lawns, and creating a pop culture peak into the contemporary imagination.

Consider the three sharks swimming up the sidewalks; Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2014

Paul Croce
Halloween 2014: Feed the Fear a Big Helping of Fun

Halloween on West Minnesota Avenue in DeLand was as big as ever. Joining with some friends, the students and I in an Environmental History class at Stetson University got ready for the MegaEvent by reading a history of chocolate. Learning about the evolution from the decidedly bitter cacao plant into the favorite treat of the modern world was a rather cheerful entrée for meeting well over two thousand children and kids of all ages in outfits of all sorts. However, not all the messages of the season were sweet. Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2013

Paul Croce
Imagination Overflow: Halloween ‘R’ Us
DeLand Beacon, November 28-December 1, 2013
http://www.beacononlinenews.com/opinions/opinion_letters.php

In recent years, our technologies and hard work have produced an extraordinary abundance of information. Think of the richness this brings to our lives: information at our fingertips, awareness of events half a world away, instant communication—such as your ability to read this essay. The remaining frontier: How to keep up with the abundance, sort it out, and figure out how to use its richness to enrich our lives, rather than just leave us overwhelmed.  Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2012

Paul Croce
Halloween on Minnesota Avenue: The Imagination Factory
The West Volusia Beacon, November 15-18, 2012, p. 1B

On October 31st, Minnesota Avenue was as full as ever with costumes and carnival delights. Some houses featured fanciful lawn decorations and music and lights, hot dogs and other treats, and of course candy, lots of candy. The crowds swelled—there must have been about 2000 people on the street and lawns.
As the token eggheads, I and two patient and playful neighbors, Blake Jones and Sam Valdez, persisted with the simple delights of meeting the kids of all ages on my front lawn, but with our mere Gang of Three to do the greeting, we turned more to talk and less to counting. Like the pollsters during the recent elections making predictions based on the returns of only a few precincts or interviews, our estimates of popular outfits come from the mere 800 that we actually could meet…. Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2011

Paul Croce
Halloween: Carnival Day for Children’s Imaginations
The DeLand Beacon, November 17-20, 2011, p. 5A

Halloween is a day of the child. Most days, children have to do what they are told, or even try to be someone who doesn’t come naturally to their natural impulse: follow rules, learn challenging things, play to win. Halloween is a day for them to follow their imaginations, learn fun things, and play just to play. Continue reading

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Sampling Popular Culture at MegaHalloween

Halloween 2008: The children lead us beyond the 1960s

October 2008

While witches and goblins walked the sidewalks of Minnesota Avenue, a controversy brewed.

Maybe I should have seen it coming in the number of political outfits the kids were wearing: two Sarah Palins, one John McCain, one Joe the Plumber, four Obama-themed outfits, including one with Martin Luther King Jr., one “kickin’ it” for the candidate, one “Obama Mama,” and one “loving school” (OK, not all Democrats are student rebels).

Before the Big Day (on our street, that’s Halloween), I offered the use of my front lawn to both political parties. With Halloween only days before the election, and hundreds of people descending on our street, I figured it would be a good chance to put some democracy into action.

The Republicans did not respond, but the Democrats did, big-time.

Read more here!

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