It's never too late to start a new holiday tradition.
Marquette proved that this weekend, when the city's Arts and Culture Center and Downtown Development Authority teamed up Saturday evening to host a pre-Halloween spectacle that exceeded the organizers' expectations.
Starting at locations scattered around downtown, mini parades converged on the Marquette Commons for a collaborative event.
The participatory show -part mardi-gras-style parade, part performance art - was the first of its kind in Marquette. More than 100 people from around the community - all volunteers - participated. Though it was a Halloween event, it was designed to be more beautiful than scary.
Tiina Harris, Arts and Culture Center director, said the spectacle was a community-wide effort involving groups throughout town doing their own thing, but in costume. Marquette Folk Dancers portrayed zombies, roller derby squads dressed as ravens, for example, and each group gave performances - in percussion, music, dance, large-scale puppetry - they dreamed up themselves.
News of the event spread quickly, according to Harris, and many area residents wanted to get in on the party. With no overall script or centralized planning, it was a great example of a spontaneous, fun creative outburst.
Harris said the spectacle shows an underlying hunger among community members - most of whom aren't professional musicians, dancers or actors - for a performance experience. They like to be a part of something bigger than they are. And an annual "happening" like the Halloween spectacle is just that kind of event.
Because of the community's enthusiasm for the new event, Harris and the other organizers said they are confident that it will continue and grow to include more of the city and the surrounding communities. Next year, the city hopes to see thousands instead of dozens of people participating.
That will go a long way toward establishing this new holiday event as a highlight on the city's fall calendar.