Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dressing up to get down for Halloween

nexStage party to revive ghosts of revelry past


Tigers and Jason and Ewoks, Oh My!--hedonists of feather flock to a Ketchum Halloween together.

Ketchum has a spooky past. Maybe you've heard people tell of the wild days of Ketchum Halloween parties of old. Maybe you shook your head, and pondered, after the tall tales, "Where have all the wild days gone?"

Well, they're back. This Saturday night, Oct. 29, the nexStage Theatre presents "Halloween. It's a scream," a street party for revelers 21 years and older. This movement to revisit the days of Ketchum's yore—when Halloween was a holiday worth closing Main Street for—is worth digging out your costumes for.

"(Halloween) was like, 'The Event,'" recalls Carol Knight, who has owned The Toy Store in Ketchum since 1978, back when "everybody went out."

Ask anyone who attended the "University of Ketchum" back in those days and the answers are similar: a haze of no open container laws and rampant hedonism.

One memorable tale has a man who brought an actual beach lifeguard stand to Main Street.

"He just sat there, supervising us," laughed Knight.

Recently, though, it seems most people simply wax nostalgic about those days, rather than simply getting out to make more memories.

Ketchum resident John Sofro, who, along with nextStage director Kathy Wygle, is organizing this year's nexStage Theater Halloween party, feels that this is a chance to change the emotional inertia that is bringing down our sense of community spirit.

"There is so much negativity about how we are becoming a town of second-home owners, about how we are losing our sense of community ... it seems that we all focus so much on that, we have lost sight about what an incredible place this still is to live," Sofro said.

While he conceded that it is nearly impossible to recapture the past, Sofro feels that by turning his party into a "fund-raiser" benefiting local organizations—Citizens for Smart Growth, the Council Circle, the nexStage Theater—people will rediscover that old masquerade spirit.

Tickets are $25 at the door and there will be three cash bars as well as food for sale at the event. DJ McClain, of Whiskey Jacques' Dollar Night and The Mint, will be providing tunes thumping both indoors and out. Organizers have arranged for a section of First Street, just north of the nexStage, to be closed for the party.

The street party is certainly not a dead idea in Ketchum. End of the ski season days at Warm Springs prove that the community still has a hankering to dress up and get down. Sofro is looking to tap into that latent desire.

"What we are trying to do is just revive a sense of community spirit that everyone is so concerned that we have lost," he said.

Sofro, who has lived in Ketchum for 13 years, is optimistic for Saturday night.

"There will be music outside and people will come when they hear the music."

Knight's recently expanded store now hosts a costume department where bashful adults can have some privacy to try skimpy outfits or just capes, wigs and feather boas of all kinds.

"It's the one night you can really dress crazy, that's what it's all about," she said.

There will, or course, be a costume contest, with categories for Best Group Effort (four or more people), Best Couple, Best Dead Celebrity, Most Tasteless and Best Overall. Judging begins at 10 p.m.

Get your spook on:

Saturday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. at the nexStage. Tickets: $25.

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