The municipal Halloween party got newspaper coverage in the Duluth Herald in 1920 and 1921. J. R. Batchelor, city recreational director, promised the children of Duluth a huge bonfire at Lake Shore Park. (Lake Shore Park was renamed Leif Erikson Park in 1929.) Captain Henry Cleveland, who coordinated the bonfire, told the children that “it will be the biggest Duluth youngsters have ever seen.”
From the Duluth Herald article of October 22, 1920:
That there will be a municipal Halloween at Lake Shore park and the Armory for all children of the city, with a huge bonfire, was the promise of J. R. Batchelor, today. He has not only promised this but assured the children that there will be a great many new stunts added this year that have never before been tried out here. In addition to this there will be the usual number of old-fashioned features that have always been associated with Halloween.
According to the program tentatively arranged this morning the American Legion Band, donated by the Kiwanis club, will open the program with several numbers at Lake Shore park while the bonfire is being started. . .
After the bonfire dies down the crowd will march to the Armory where games and sports will be played. The platform will be used for ghost dances and other features being rehearsed by children. Bobbing for apples, diving in a tub of flour for pennies and a big peanut scramble are only a few of the stunts arranged.
The peanut scramble will be for boys and girls. The big floor will be strewn with peanuts and one-half marked off for boys and the other half for girls. There will be enough for everyone, even if they are slow at the start, Mr. Batchelor promises.
In an article on October 29, 1920, the day of the party, the Herald article said,
No trouble has been spared by J. R. Batchelor and Capt. Henry Cleveland to give the youngsters a “rattlin’ good time.” There will be games, contests, spooks, ghost dances, peanut scrambles, apple bobbing and a bonfire, the like of which has never been seen in Duluth, is the promise of Capt. Cleveland.
A change of plans was laid out, because someone else had already reserved the Armory. Now the bonfire, games, and stunts would start at Lake Shore Park in the first part of the evening. “A parade will be formed, and the crowd, headed by the [American Legion] band, will march down to London road to the business section, where the peanut scramble will take place among the sidewalks.”
“Duluth Kids Made Happy,” was the follow-up headline on October 30. “Children play pranks under city charge; many Halloween stunts.”
Thousands of kiddies were made happy last night. They were given an opportunity of playing their Halloween pranks, but under the supervision of the city recreational department officials. They had their games and their contests, and when it was all over, they went home, and even if it was late, they were all happy. Peanuts and apples were ample for all and many still had their pockets full when they left the grounds.
The entertainment opened at Lake Shore park at 8 o’clock with a few numbers by the American Legion band. . . About the same time one of the biggest bonfires ever built in Duluth was touched off by Capt. Henry Cleveland, and the boys and girls sang different songs as they danced around the flaming pile. Capt. Cleveland had been collecting material for the fire for the last two weeks, and it was conceded that it was one of the biggest ever seen. At times the flames shot into the air a distance of sixty feet.
In 1921, the city held another municipal party.
Goblins, brownies, elfs and witches had their fling at mirth and mischief in Lake Shore park last night, but always under the watchful eye of the city recreational department. It was the annual Halloween municipal celebration.
The traditional Halloween characters left the home of Mother Goose last night and held sway for two solid hours, dancing, playing, skipping and frolicking around a monster bonfire, the reflection of which could be seen far away.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 youngsters and adults were there, carrying every conceivable device to make noise—dish pans, boilers, frying pans and the like. J. R. Batchelor, city recreational inspector, opened the program, rendering “Humoresque” on a dish pan borrowed from home.
The old-fashioned games were not forgotten either. Bobbing for apples, peanut races, boxing contests, the contestants standing in barrels, and other stunts featured the program arranged by Mr. Batchelor.
Downtown Not Neglected
The downtown district was not neglected either, as windows this morning will show. The time-honored custom of soaping windows was not discarded and “Willie likes Mary” was written on many a window pane.
Youngsters paraded through the downtown district last night until warned to go home by police. They were dressed in Halloween costumes and carried jack-o-lanterns.
The many Halloween balls and masquerades also lent a holiday aspect to the evening.
A typical Halloween program was staged in the Y. M. C. A. in which 3,000 youngsters took part. They were all masked. Later a Halloween party was held in the gymnasium.
Practically every school and several churches in the city carried out Halloween programs in some shape.
It’s too bad there weren’t any pictures accompanying the articles!
Articles from the Duluth Herald: 10/22/1920, 10/29/1920, 10/30/1920, 11/1/1921, on microfilm at the Duluth Public Library.