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Halloweek haunts College Hill

The week’s festivities include the Midnight Organ Recital and the RISD Artist Ball

One of the few times of the year when students are encouraged to pretend to be someone — or something — they are not, Halloweek will feature both on- and off-campus celebrations and attempts to best their peers with creative attire and trickery. But the expanded celebration around Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon in the University’s history.


Old school trick or treat 

The “huge blossoming of Halloween is relatively recent” on campus, said University Historian Jane Lancaster PhD ’98.

But a taste for tricks is deep-rooted in Brown’s history. Lancaster referred to one particular prank performed more than once by “the boys” of the 19th century, who would steal the president’s cow away from grazing on the Quiet Green and lead it up several flights of stairs to the top of University Hall.

“The up was easy,” she said, but guiding the cow back downstairs was more difficult.

Even before the advent of Halloweek celebrations, Brown students were never lacking in fall rituals.

Bonfires were the most dominant student tradition in the 19th century, Lancaster said.

Students would hold them at every possible occasion, she said. Participants would burn “everything that moved.” The bonfire custom now lives on through Waterfire, Lancaster said, citing Providence’s fire-lighting event on the river in downtown Providence, a tradition started by a Brown alum.


Dressed to impress 

Excitement about festivities surrounding Halloween may be a close second to students’ excitement about their costumes.

For many, worry about what to wear is actually a relief in the midst of midterm season.

“It comes at a perfect time,” said James Young ’16, adding that for him Halloween will be the finale to a particularly challenging week.

Thayer’s Shades Plus is a popular place for students seeking last-minute costumes and accessories. It’s “crazy” for Halloween, said Kayla Capuano, Shades Plus manager, adding that this “Thursday, Friday and Saturday, you probably will not be able to walk in the store.”

Marguerite Suozzo-Gole ’15.5 said she will be going with a friend as “Duck and Bunny” in reference to the Wickenden Street snuggery, but with an added twist — the duck will be “fat” and “frumpy” while the bunny will wear “tight-fitting clothes,” she said.

Housemates Raisa Cramer ’16 and Jonathan Rubins ’16 plan to go together, each as a “futuristic metallic space person slash powerful sex god,” Rubins said. He added that he recently dyed his hair blonde for a costume.

Kevin Chen ’15 said he is considering going out with friends as the characters from the Clue board game.

Creative costumes could earn students more than pride. A $500 prize was set to be given last night for best costume at the Whiskey Republic, according to the event’s Facebook page.


Haunting the hill

Many students expressed excitement for this year’s on-campus Halloween activities. Starting as early as Tuesday’s community Trick-or-Treat on Wriston Quadrangle, which saw many miniature witches, bears and butterflies as fraternities and sororities opened their houses to local children, students cited a wide list of events that they plan to attend over the course of the week. These range from fraternity-hosted themed nighttime parties to more unusual festivities, such as the closing night of Deshabiller, an art exhibition of 365 dresses worn on each day of the year.

Tonight will also feature the annual Halloween Midnight Organ Concert, a Brunonian tradition featuring Mark Steinbach, University organist, according to the University’s event page.

Many students said they will be saving their best costumes for a variety of off-campus celebrations.

One particularly anticipated event is the Rhode Island School of Design Artist Ball, an annual RISD celebration that takes place downtown.

There’s a lot of pressure to have a good costume for the ball, said Maddie Kau ’16, adding that she might go downtown just to see the costumes but will stay outside to avoid buying a ticket. Kau listed Frieda Kahlo as one of her costumes for this year. James Young ’16, a Brown-RISD Dual Degree student, said he is planning to go as a “piece of pepperoni mushroom pizza,” which is his self-proclaimed “spirit animal.”

Some students are taking their celebrations beyond the confines of campus.

Nicolas Baird ’14 said he is looking forward to trick-or-treating in some residential areas of the East Side at the suggestion of one of his professors. He will be going as Finn the Human from Adventure Time, a show aired on Cartoon Network.

Pom Bunsermvicha ’16 said she is headed to a lakehouse for Halloweekend where she will film her horror movie for Brown University Motion Pictures.


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