The Phantom’s Top Ten Louisville Halloween Traditions

Phantom's Top 10 Halloween Traditions

The Phantom of the Ville highlights his favorite nostalgic Louisville-centric seasonal traditions!

Halloween is a holiday that is deeply rooted in ancient traditions and nostalgia both historically and, for many of us, personally. There is soul comfort in our first cup of pumpkin spice coffee or our first taste of candy corn after an eleven month drought. We desire nothing more than to revisit the places that trigger our brain synapses in a way that reminds us of times long gone but well remembered.

Sights. Scents. Sounds. Sensations of love, innocence, adventure and terror.

It is in this spirit that I’m digging up some of my own favorite, non-haunt related traditions that perhaps some of you may share or possibly wish to add to your own October calendar. Happy haunting!

Phantom's Top 10 Halloween Traditions

1) A visit to Caufield’s dungeon room! No Halloween is complete for Louisvillians without a trip to Caufield’s Novelty on Main St. For nearly a century, Caufield’s has been selling novelties, magic tricks, party supplies and Halloween costumes to the River City and it’s just not Halloween until you’ve pulled into the little parking lot with the giant vampire bat hanging from the building. Marvel at Caufield’s famous “wall of masks” before venturing deeper into the bowels of this legendary business to explore the dungeon full of props and creepy moving animatronics.

 2) A visit to the Fearmonger’s grave! Local actor, Charles Kissinger, hosted WDRB-41’s first horror movie program, “Fright Night,” from 1971 to 1975 as the mysterious Fearmonger, and in the process infected an entire generation of Louisville monster kids with the love of vintage monster movies. Kissinger is buried in St. Louis Cemetery on Barret Ave.

3) The Louisville Halloween Parade & Festival! Admittedly, I may seem to be tooting our own horn in this case since Louisville Halloween is now the primary sponsor of this annual parade in the Highlands, but the truth is that I’ve loved this public event since Caufield’s led the charge down Baxter Ave and Bardstown Rd. This year’s festival will begin at noon on Friday, Oct. 21, and the parade starts at 4PM.

4) A drive through Cave Hill Cemetery! The serene, Gothic beauty of Louisville’s largest and most historic cemetery cannot be overstated. Some of my favorite stops include the graves of Colonel Sanders, Harry Collins (the Frito Lay Magician), Muhammad Ali and cult film director, William Girdler (“Asylum of Satan,” “Three on a Meathook”).

5) “Dracula” at Actor’s Theater! Adapted from the famous stage play written by John L. Balderstone and Hamilton Deane and based on Bram Stoker’s literary masterpiece, this visually stunning theatrical production has become as big of an annual Louisville Halloween tradition as Dicken’sA Christmas Carol” during the Christmas season.

6) The Corn Island Storytelling Festival! This 30 year plus tradition at the Blackacre Conservancy is back on Saturday, Oct. 21 and with it comes perhaps the oldest Halloween tradition of all: the telling of ghost stories around the campfire. Bring your own blanket and indulge in a hot cup of apple cider.

7) Halloween on Hillcrest! This isn’t just Louisville’s favorite block for trick-or-treating, it’s considered one of America’s best trick-or-treating destinations. But you don’t have to wait until Oct. 31 to enjoy it. Any night of the week, but especially on weekend nights, the street is lit up in orange-and-black majesty. New yard scenes this year include a grisly tribute to Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Stoker’s Dracula.

8) A visit to Schimpff’s Confectionery! Since 1891, this family owned candy store and soda fountain in Jeffersonville, IN has created some of the most amazing Halloween candy in the region. Live candy making sessions happen daily and the free Candy Museum in the back features an historic collection of vintage Halloween candy boxes and containers.

9) A visit to Horner Novelty on Spring St in Jeffersonville, IN! Just down the street from Schimpff’s, you’ll find this two story historic building filled to the brim with Halloween decorations, props, costumes and makeup. There is a satellite location on Breckenridge Lane in Louisville’s East End, but the Spring Street location is the true Halloween destination from my perspective.

10) Halloween ComicFest! One of my newest Halloween traditions, Halloween ComicFest is just like Free Comic Book Day which takes place annually in May, except this one features mostly spooky and Halloween related comics and takes place on Saturday, Oct. 28. Special issues of Batman, Hellboy and Ghostbusters will be among the comics free for the taking at all local participating comic book stores.

The Phantom of The Ville

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