Halloween is coming on a Monday this year, and the streets of Globe will once again be filled with ghosts and goblins. Even a cowboy named Garbage Gus will appear in the first full-on Globe Halloween celebration in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
“Last year, we got rid of all the music stages so we wouldn’t cause grouping,” says Molly Cornwell of Globe Main Street. “We separated the booths further away from each other and tried to do what we could, but to me it felt sterile compared to what we normally do.”
What Cornwell and Globe Main Street normally does for Halloween is organize the Globe Downtown Halloween Block Party, a community celebration that, during a normal year, attracts as many as 5,000 people to Historic Downtown Globe.
But the signature event was not always as big as it is now. It had fairly humble beginnings.
According to Cornwell, the event began its evolution in October 2005, shortly after she arrived from the Valley, when the late local icon Kip Culver took over the directorship of Globe Main Street and eventually the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts.
Cornwell had just opened The White Porch, and in collaboration with Linda Gross, a local photographer and the publisher of Globe Miami Times, came up with Pictures on the Porch. The idea was to take photos of people in their Halloween costumes and turn them into cards they could purchase for $10.
“Molly literally set the stage, using her signature white porch display for the shop and turning it into an October themed stage which could accommodate all sizes and manner of dress,” Gross remembers. “At the time, we had no idea how big the event would become. But now, looking back at the archives, we realize we captured a generation of kids and their families at this event over the years.”
At that time, Culver was just beginning his campaign to revitalize downtown and save its historic buildings from crumbling or being demolished for parking lots.
Through Globe Main Street’s efforts to recruit businesses to participate in the Halloween festivities, the event began to draw more and more people. Culver created a budget to help purchase candy to hand out, and a number of events were created, including a haunted house at the Historic 1910 Jail, pumpkin carving, and even a pumpkin-rolling contest in front of the Chrysocolla Inn on East Oak Street.
“We closed Mesquite Street for vendors, and with the help of Holly and Joe Brantley, turned the old jail into the ultimate haunted experience,” Cornwell says of that first year. “We were hoping for 20 people, but we were overwhelmed.”
In the years following, the event continued to grow as more and more merchants participated.
Within two years, there would be lines around the block of people waiting to get in the jail, and the candy budget was getting strained.
“We had to move the haunted house outside of the jail because people couldn’t fit in with their costumes,” Cornwell says. “It started out with the kids dressing up, but suddenly entire families were dressed up.”
Globe Main Street also provided space for Copper Rim Elementary School to have its fall carnival — that event has since moved to the school’s campus — and the City’s Halloween event was opened up for sponsorship from other entities and service clubs, such as the Globe Rotary Club.
By 2010, it had grown exponentially, and the crowds had become so big the City had to jump in to close the streets.
The festivities included events taking place from the Train Depot to the Courthouse to the Downtown Gateway. Several staging areas for various forms of entertainment were set up, and the event was even featured by Big John on local radio station KQSS, which broadcasted from the street in front of the Center for the Arts.
St. John’s Church would hand out hot dogs and hot cocoa, and Hollis Theater gave out free popcorn.
“We used to do maps, but we had so many last-minute changes it became impossible,” Cornwell says. “Attendance hit about 2,500, but we stopped tracking when we hit 4,000.”
She estimates there were as many as 5,000 attendees at the festival’s peak, but even with several people attempting to keep track of the numbers, it was difficult to know how accurate the counts were.
By that time, Cornwell and Culver had become a couple. But in 2015, Culver died tragically at the age of 47.
Despite the loss of Culver, Cornwell and the Downtown Association carried on the work of hosting the event every Halloween — until the pandemic hit in 2020 and halted all large gatherings.
But Globe Main Street has big plans for the first full-blown Halloween in three years.
The footprint of the event has expanded, and this year there will be four staging areas with plenty of entertainment. There will be food vendors and an area for “trunk or treat” cars. Miami’s new town manager, Alexis Rivera, will do the honors as this year’s DJ.
There will be costume contests, window decorating contests, vendors, food trucks, a photo booth, and much, much more.
Western Reprographics owner Tanner Hunsaker, Kip Culver’s nephew, will once again participate by decorating his business. He’ll have friends on hand who will help distribute candy, and, of course, his 1960 Ford flatbed truck Garbage Gus will be there.
Gus has attended the event dressed as a spider, a pirate, a vampire, Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant Igor and even a werewolf.
“We used a very expensive piece of shag carpet to dress him that year,” Hunsaker says. “The kids love it because it reminds them of the movie ‘Cars.’”
This year Western Reprographics will have a cowboy theme, and Gus will be dressed appropriately.
Hunsaker even plans to create an old-timey saloon, and anyone who hangs out there has to dress like a cowboy. He says since Halloween is on Monday this year, he’ll likely close up shop the following day.
Ultimately, Hunsaker says, the event is about families having fun on one of Globe’s favorite holidays.
“It was getting huge before COVID, but it’s been down since then,” he says. “It’s a large-scale, safe place for people to go and a whole lot of to-do for a few hours.”
The downtown Trick-or-Treat will take place on Monday, Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., or until each station runs out of candy. Participants are encouraged to dress up and can start anywhere along Broad Street from Yuma Street to Sycamore Street.
Broad Street will be closed from 4 to 9 p.m. for pedestrian access only, and everyone is asked to be mindful of social distancing whenever possible.
For vendor, booth, car show, trunk-or-treat, or volunteering information or questions, contact Cornwell at (480) 345-7477, or via any of the Facebook pages associated with the event or Globe Main Street.
The Globe Main Street program began in 1986 when the eight-block downtown commercial district was designated a National Historic Registry Historic District. It is operated by its parent nonprofit, the Globe Downtown Association, and is one of the five bed tax groups that receive funding from the City of Globe.
Cornwell says the Halloween event couldn’t happen without the support of the City and the community in general.
“It’s a free community event that’s not free,” she says. “The City is a great partner, and our other partners are the downtown merchants. We are very grateful for our community support.”
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.