SPAF hosts annual Halloween parade

Artistic director Greg Tilson discusses SPAF’s annual tradition

Image supplied by: Supplied by SPAF
Parade to feature music from Urban Science Brass Band.

Skeleton Park Arts Festival (SPAF) is hosting their annual Halloween parade on Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. in Skeleton Park.

The Halloween parade has been a Skeleton Park tradition for around 30 years, welcoming kids and families in surrounding neighbourhoods to meet in the park and show off their costumes. 

The Journal spoke with Greg Tilson, artistic director of SPAF, about this year’s event. 

“You’re likely to see some stilt walkers and a lot of a lot of really interesting costumes,” Tilson said. 

“You can imagine in a neighborhood full of artists that the costumes are going to be pretty impressive.”

The Urban Science Brass Band, a New Orleans-style brass band from Montreal, will be leading this year’s parade. They’re known for their high-energy, interactive performances that feature an array of instruments, multilingual MCs, marching band drummers, and street dancers. 

“[The Urban Science Brass Band is] right up our alley,” Tilson said. “They know how to take it to the streets.”

SPAF and Urban Science Brass Band have also partnered with Roots and Wings, KEYS Job Centre, and Queen’s Black Graduate Caucus to facilitate a workshop dedicated to teaching young folks how to rap and improvise music.

Roots and Wings is a Kingston organization that serves racialized youth—most of whom identify as female, queer, trans, and/or non-binary. 

KEYS and Queen’s Black Graduate Caucus also work with young folks and students in the community, bringing a supportive addition to the parade. 

Tilson says SPAF and partnering organizations are trying to create a safe space for young folks that will give them access to arts learning. 

“[We hope to] welcome these young people with some high-caliber music and fun activities before the parade,” Tilson said.

SPAF has worked to ensure the workshop and parade are accessible to the public while taking the ongoing pandemic into consideration.

“That’s what we’re all about here, just making art super accessible,” Tilson said. 

“[We’re] kind of getting out of the traditional theater and into the streets, parks, and porches to get take [art] to the people.”

The activities will take place safely outside in the park and surrounding street. SPAF asks participants to wear masks wherever physical distancing may be difficult.

Tilson sees the power of Skeleton Park’s traditions and the power of connecting people through art and music, especially through safe in-person events. 

“We’ve all been struggling together to figure out how to stay connected and have fun, and to continue to make art,” Tilson said. 

“I’m just excited that we’re all going to be getting together and continuing a tradition.”



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