Halloween Capital of the World: Anoka, MN

To hold the title of a “Halloween town” is a pretty big accomplishment in the Halloween community. Is the town just that spooky, or full of just that much history, or have that big of a Halloween extravaganza to warrant thousands upon thousands of people to make a pilgrimage during the month of October? We know towns like Sleepy Hollow, NY, Salem, MA, and New Orleans, LA certainly do. But, which town is the most ultimate of all Halloween towns to visit? That’s a question that will be up for debate for as long as Halloween is celebrated. With that said, there is one town that has the claim to fame of the “Official Halloween Capital of the World.”

Anoka Halloween Capital

No, that town is not Sleepy Hollow, New Orleans, Salem, or even Transylvania for that matter. It’s Anoka, Minnesota! The town claims Halloween as its fame because of its huge Halloween celebration, dating back to the 1920s. The Anoka Halloween website explains that it was one of the first cities in the United States to divert Halloween pranksters from the “trick” part of “trick or treat.” In 1920, Anoka civic leaders suggested the idea of a giant celebration because of a growing problem on Halloween pranksters. These Halloween pranksters weren’t doing anything too crazy by today’s Michief Night standards. They were partaking in activities like tipping cows and soaping windows. But, the town of Anoka decided that these tricksters needed to be dealt with in a positive way!

With the support of local clubs, a Halloween committee was organized that September. A huge Halloween parade was put together, running down Main Street, with a bonfire afterwards. The tradition continue and grew year after year. In 1937, as the story goes, 12-year-old Harold Blair, wearing a sweater embellished with a Halloween Capital insignia, carried a proclamation naming Anoka the Halloween Capital of the World to Washington D.C. According to Anoka’s website, celebrations have been held every year since 1920, except for 1942 and 1943, when they were cancelled because of World War II.

The America’s Library website also explains that Anoka’s Halloween celebration also includes other events, like the Gray Ghost 5K Run, inspired by sightings of Bill Andberg, a marathon runner whose ghostly figure can be seen running through a local cemetery. There are also many competitions throughout the week leading up to Halloween, including a pumpkin bake-off, and a best Halloween house decoration contest.

While Anoka, MN may not have the historical significance of the Salem Witch Trials, or the literary significance of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the town certainly does have its own rich Halloween history. If you’re looking for a Halloween town to visit during the month of October, it’s certainly worth adding to your list. You can check out the calendar on the Anoka Halloween website for a list of  their October Halloween events. Make sure to follow them on Facebook, too.