A New Orleans Halloween

Ever since I began writing the Cajun Country Mysteries, a highlight of publication has been my annual panel appearance at the Louisiana Book Festival, which takes place in Baton Rouge either the last Saturday in October or first in November. I always combine the trip with a visit to New Orleans, especially now that our daughter has followed my path and is attending college there. (She’s at Loyola – Go, Wolfpack! I’m a Tulane alum – Roll, Wave!)

Last year, as luck would have it, our visit aligned with Halloween. The timing was serendipitous since I was in the processing of writing MURDER IN THE BAYOU BONEYARD, my sixth Cajun Country Mystery, which revolves around the celebration of Halloween in my fictional town of Pelican, Louisiana. Being that no city celebrates any holiday like New Orleans – especially Halloween, given the city’s claim as the most haunted in the country – my husband Jer and I decided we had to check out the action in the French Quarter, something I hadn’t done since I was a Tulane student. First, we wandered the neighborhood near our Garden District hotel to admire the decorations. The streets were packed with likeminded locals taking in the fabulous sights like this house…

And this one…

Then we hopped on the streetcar, which was filled with an array of costumed celebrants, and made our way to the Quarter. I loved the skeleton “krewe” we met walking down Canal Street.

Having experienced Bourbon Street during the madness that is Mardi Gras, I was a little nervous about what the Halloween scene might be. I was happy to find a jovial crowd more entertained by each other’s costumes than giant fishbowls of frozen daquiris. And just like Uptown, the decorations were great.

This year, I was thrilled to learn the Louisiana Book Festival would fall on Halloween itself. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since MURDER IN THE BAYOU BONEYARD launched September 8th. I found a cheap airline fare and quickly bought tickets. Then, like so many events this year, it was cancelled. Understandable, of course, but still deeply disappointing.

I have no idea what Halloween in the Crescent City will look like in 2020. I doubt anyone does. But Jer and I are going. We’ll visit Eliza, of course. And I’ll do research for two pending projects set in New Orleans. Come October 31st, if New Orleans is experiencing a quiet holiday and I need a dose of Halloween – I can always read my own book!

Readers, do you have Halloween plans? What do you love or hate about the holiday?

30 thoughts on “A New Orleans Halloween

  1. My town hasn’t announced what it’s doing for Halloween. Since my candy assistants are both at college, I’m tryin to figure out how to expend the least amount of energy (since Koda will go berserk at all the visitors if there is trick-or-treating). Although the idea of dressing him like a Greyhound bus and sitting outside to hand out treats (weather permitting) is attractive.

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  2. Enjoy your trip, Ellen! I love Halloween, with the spooky stories, fun costumes, and the kindness neighbors show to kids out trick or treating. Hope you have a great time!

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  3. I don’t typically do anything for Halloween. We never get trick-or-treaters here, but sometimes I see the neighborhood kids dressed in their costumes as they go to the mall or to some other organized event. They always look so cute and festive. I’m hoping things aren’t cancelled for them this year.

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    1. We live in the hills and while we used to get some trick or treaters, we don’t anymore. I would go to friends in “the flats” to give out candy. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening at all this year.

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  4. I was so excited to move back to my native New England after living for a few years in a place where Halloween in the traditional sense was discouraged (don’t ask). But we live on a hill at the end of a looooong driveway off a busy-ish road and we haven’t had any little witches and goblins visit here either. We make pumpkin bread, carve a jack or two, and buy candy when it goes on clearance (for Christmas stuff) the next day. But I enjoy the Halloween hoopla from afar!

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  5. We were in Nola last year at Halloween and had a great time. Not as hectic as Mardi Gras but fun anyway. This year we are in lockdown so not answering the down for Trick or Treaters. Our daughter is having a baby on November 12 so we want to be safe

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    1. I remember that we were in town last year around the same time. Congrats on the baby! That’s so exciting. You can always put a bowl of candy out for trick or treaters. That’s what I do in the vain hope someone will come by. I think there’s going to be a lot of leftover candy on sale November 1st.

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  6. These photos are awesome, Ellen! I especially love the first one–pretty darn scary!

    Robin and I tend to either go out, or hide in the back of the house with the lights out, on Halloween, as the constant ringing of the doorbell and kids in weird costumes completely freaks out poor Ziggy, who barks and shakes and shivers the whole night. Too bad, though, because I love those little kids in weird costumes.

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  7. LOVED the event yesterday all about haunted Louisiana! I have no idea what Halloween will be like this year. We will just go with the flow!!

    As a child, we called it “Beggars Night” and chanted:
    Trick or treat! Trick or treat!
    We’re the beggars of the street!
    Do we soap or do we eat?
    Trick or treat! Trick or treat!

    Of course this was in the “dark ages” when people used bar soap, so we had lots of opportunity for “artistic expression” on any window we could find. Then the days that followed, we would make extra money by washing windows and cars – a win-win for kids — candy AND extra cash!

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    1. OMG, thank you so much for coming to that! I’m sorry Mark couldn’t make it. I want to do another e-vent. Maybe something for Mardi Gras.

      It sounds to me like you had some very kind and understanding neighbors!

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  8. My plans usually involve going to a friend’s party or the Harvest festival my church puts on. Either way, I don’t think either of those will be happening this year. So I may buy some candy in case I get any trick or treaters (I rarely get very many due to the stairs in my condo complex) and watch my version of scary movies – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Disney The Haunted Mansion. I may be the only one, but I enjoy that movie.

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  9. We usually have a few trick-or-treaters, but we’re probably going dark this year. I’ve heard of others making individual bags of candy and spacing them apart for pick-up, but I’m too lazy. We do, though, plan on doing our usual pumpkin carving activities. And I’ve already made pumpkin bread this year!

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    1. You? Lazy??? Nuh uh. I’ll go with you’re too busy for that, my friend. I know how much you’re doing these days.

      All this talk about pumpkin bread is giving me a craving. Darn you, pandemic pounds I can’t shed to make room for pumpkin bread!

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  10. These pics of Halloween in NOLA are fab, Ellen — thanks for sharing! I’ve been to New Orlean several times, but not around Halloween. I’m thinking Halloween might be better than Mardi Gras — lots of fun, smaller crowds!

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  11. Great pictures, Ellen! I’m not a fan of Halloween, not even as a kid. I liked the candy, mind you, but the whole costume rigamarole annoyed me. I usually just threw on my dad’s old fishing hat and coat and went as an un-PC hobo. If I was lucky, my mom got me a bubble gum cigar to complete my ensemble. Added benefit, I didn’t have to wear a coat over my costume, thus wasting any effort I might have actually put into it.

    Like Leslie, we have to keep the porch light off because Nala goes nuts every time it rings, then she tries to greet everyone in a rush of exuberance and scares those poor little goblins!

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  12. Becky, I’m always relieved to know I’m not the only person on earth who never loved Halloween! That costume sounds right up my alley. I remember going to a party in NY one year back in the day, dressed only in street clothes. When anyone asked what I was, I said, “An unemployed actress.” Not long afterwards, the costume turned into “Unemployed writer.”

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    1. I will say, though, when hubs and I get invited to the rare Halloween party these days, we do make an effort. I made us matching harlequin outfits once. And another time we went as a s’more. Oversized scans of graham crackers and chocolate bars and lots of cotton batting. It only looked right when we were dancing, however. Thank goodness we don’t get invited to too many costume parties!

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  13. I love Halloween–the candy part, not the dressing up part.

    Historically, we have gone pretty big for Halloween, decorating the house suUUuuper spooOOkily (enough that people comment on the giant inflatable spider). This year, the kids have turned up their non-costumed noses at decorating, so we’ll play it low-key. That’s okay. More candy for me.

    Have a fabulous trip! Can’t wait to see the NEW photos!!

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