Spooky season never ends for the Halloween capital of the world


ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO/CNN) - Anoka is dubbed the “Halloween capital of the world,” and for good reason. This town celebrates spooky season all year.

"We're in Halloween season. We're not in Halloween day here," John Jost said.

Jost is part of the city's 100th anniversary committee. Much like state fair organizers work all year, Anoka volunteers lift the spirits of a long-running tradition for 12 straight months.

Jost admitted that residents of Anoka look forward to Halloween all year like kids anticipate Christmas.

"I would say Halloween is in my bone marrow. Being an Anokan, the Halloween experience is tied directly to that," Jost said.

Even when it's not October, you'll find signs everywhere that Halloween isn't really over for these folks from the witch medallion in front of city hall to the creepy murals along the river. There's even a year-round Halloween shop.

Pranksters in Anoka started the obsession with Halloween in the early 1900s.

"You can always blame the kids, right? They were screwing around we had to do something else," Jost said."Yeah, the damage was getting out of control... No more tipping over outhouses, putting animals on roofs, wagons on roofs."

In 1920, city leaders decided to give the kids something else to do.

They put on parades where trick-or-treaters were encouraged to put on a costume and join in, no matter how creepy their getup was. Children even got out of school for a half day, a tradition that continues today.

"They march down Main Street in costume, carrying a sign with their school name and class," Karen George, who lives in Anoka, said. "People just stop and watch the kids parade down Main Street."

George remembers the parade from her own childhood when she dressed as a skeleton in 1964.

Today, the city's parade can bring in more than 60,000 people to Anoka.

The hundreds of volunteers that make it happen every year keep it as family-friendly as possible.

"It's just as magical for the children today in 2019, as it was for me back in the 60s," George said.

A handful of other cities around the U.S. make claims to be the Halloween capital of the world, but none can argue with history.

"We are known to be the longest-lasting Halloween tradition in the United States," Jost said.

There's even a congressional record that recognizes that.

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