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Stories of Red Deer’s earliest Halloween celebrations

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Editor’s Note:  This article was written in 2018, long before Covid. 

Stories of Red Deer’s earliest Halloween celebrations

By Michael Dawe

Another Halloween will soon be upon us. It is one of the most popular of the annual celebrations. While door-to-door trick or treating by young children has become somewhat less common over the last few years, more and more people seem to be decorating their homes and their yards for the evening. Dressing up in costume remains as popular as ever, as are social get-togethers with all kinds of food and drink to share.

Halloween is a very old celebration, with some of the traditions dating back to the ancient Celtic rituals and festivities, marking what was then considered the start of the Celtic New Year. Later, there were strong Christian influences, as the night became connected with commemorations of All Hallows Eve (the origin of the name “Halloween) and All Saints Day on November 1st. All Saints Day is still a public holiday in parts of Europe.

Celebration of Halloween was not common in North American until the arrival of large numbers of Celtic immigrants from Ireland and Scotland during the 19th century. However, the tradition of children going door-to-door for trick or treating did not begin until the early part of the last century. It did not become a practice in Red Deer until the latter part of the 1920s.

History of Halloween in Canada.

Alexandria Hotel

Some of the earliest celebrations of Halloween in Red Deer took place in the early 1900s. Usually, a local group would organize a party at a local hall with all sorts of fun and games. Apples were a staple of these early socials. The wearing of costumes was strongly encouraged.

One group that organized annual Halloween events was the Alexandra Club. This was a group of young women dedicated to raising funds for the Red Deer Memorial Hospital. Hence, the annual Halloween gathering was as much a fundraiser as a social occasion. Other popular fundraisers staged by the Alexandra Club were women’s hockey games at the rink on Morrison (52) Street.

St. Luke’s Parish Hall

In 1913, the main Halloween event was a dance at the new Parish Hall on Gaetz Avenue, just north of St. Luke’s Anglican Church. This large new public hall had been officially opened on the eve of Red Deer being incorporated as a city on March 25, 1913. The Halloween music was provided by the Orpheus Orchestra. The evening was such a success that plans were made to have Halloween dances at the Parish Hall as annual events.

 

Red Deer Armouries

Tragically, the First World War broke out in August 1914. The community focused on the war effort and little was done to mark such “frivolous” occasions as Halloween. However, after the War, a new tradition started. The local 78th Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery organized Halloween Balls at the Armouries on First Street South (now the location of the Children’s Library).

The annual militia balls were quite lavish events and extremely popular. People were not even bothered when, at the first ball in 1921, the outside of the main exit was blocked with a pile of piano boxes. A threat by the attending officers of a week’s short rations ensured that the young artillery men quickly cleared away the obstacles so that the guests could depart for home.

Halloween pranks have been one of the most enduring of the evening’s traditions. In 1921, in addition to the piling of the piano boxes at the 78th Battery’s ball, the local newspapers reported that Police Chief Anderson probably had as much fun the day after Halloween as anyone else. He rounded up all the likely suspects from the previous evening’s pranks. He made sure that these “young enthusiasts” spent the day putting things back in place and removing the soap that they had applied to various store-front windows.

Red Deer Public School, nicknamed “The Castle”

Unfortunately, a small group had gotten carried away with their pranks at the High School building on the Central School grounds. In order to drive home the point that there were limits to the number and type of activities that would be tolerated on Halloween Night, Principal C.D. Locke imposed a “two-day enforced holiday” on the perpetuators as a warning to rein in their “youthful exuberance” during next year’s Halloween activities.

Michael Dawe – October 31, 2018

A fifth generation Central Albertan with roots in Red Deer and Pine Lake, Michael Dawe serves on Red Deer City Council. In 1979, he became the city’s first full-time archivist with the Red Deer and District Archives. In May 2009, he was seconded to become the curator of history in preparation for the City of Red Deer Centennial in 2013.

Michael has won a number of awards including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Alberta Centennial medals. He was named Alberta Citizen of the Year by the Council on School Administration of the Alberta Teachers Association for his work with local schools. He received the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Commendation for his work with veterans. He was twice voted Red Deer’s Most Beloved Citizen by the readers of the Red Deer Express newspaper.

 

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Central Alberta

Children’s Fest is back in the park in 2022!

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Groups and organizations come together to host the 16th Annual Central Alberta Children’s Festival

Never Grow Up!

After 2 years of re-imagined festivals we are excited to be hosting the 16 th Annual Central Alberta Children’s Festival back in the park. This family-friendly event is held over two days the first weekend of June. The festival is an opportunity for children and their families to get first-hand knowledge and exposure to the arts, to allow their creativity and imaginations to blossom.

June 3rd and 4th Rotary Recreation Park 4501 47A Ave, Red Deer will come to life with music, dancing, children running and laughing enjoying tons of interactive fun!

The community planning committee has been busy putting together a great two days that will enchant and engage children of all ages. With support from various community partners, the festival brings affordable, culturally diverse, and exciting entertainment through featured artists and interactive fun. We strive to allow families to actively engage in learning and playtime by fostering their imagination and creativity. From dancing, ultimate fort building, Laser Chase, Imaginate where you will learn from local artists, glitter tattoos, and performances this children’s festival has it all.

Live shows include:

 Beppie a JUNO nominated recording artist and an award winning music educator based out of Edmonton,

 LANCE CARDINAL ᐊᐧᒐᐢᐠ First Nations artist, designer, and entrepreneur. Lance recently began a new role as Indigenous consultant and designer for the Edmonton Oilers, writing the new pre-game land acknowledgement video and designing the new Turtle Island Logo.

 The Joe Show – Start with a little magic. Add some breathtaking illusions. Stir in appearances from an amazing collection of animal friends with ventriloquism, Sprinkle in a healthy dose of jokes, laughter and fun, and you have the recipe for an amazing show known as the Joe Show

With our admission fee of only $7 per person, or $25 per family or anytime pass $40.00 for a family, every family can enjoy the world-class entertainment and all activities. Included with the admission, families will also have access to free
snacks and water (bring a bottle!), The Central Alberta Children’s Festival welcomes kids ages 0 – 99!

For more information on the festival visit www.centralalbertachildrensfestival.ca

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Community

Run or Hike for more than your health at the Run/Hike for Hospice on June 5, 2022

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With less than one month to go, registration and planning for the 15th Annual Run/Hike for Hospice, presented by RSM Canada, is in fully swing! Choose to hike, walk, or stroll the 1km or 4km within the beautiful Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sanctuary or run 5km along the city’s scenic riverside trails.

“Run/Hike for Hospice is an opportunity to celebrate the journey of life for a loved one or just get outside and spend time with family and friends. The event also raises funds in support of end of life care in Central Alberta,” shared Jerri Taylor, Executive Director of the Red Deer Hospice. “It is a key fundraiser for us, our goal for Run/Hike for Hospice this year is to raise $35,000 in donations and pledges and we are happy to report we are half way there!”

Registration for teams and individuals is open at www.reddeerhospice.com and is just $25 per individual. At the event (and included with your registration) you can expect live music, a burger and plenty of other snacks as well as a t-shirt (while supplies last). Virtual options are available for those who just aren’t ready to be back in a crowd.

IN-PERSON Participants can join us at the outdoor event which will take place at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sunday June 5th, 2022. Choose to Hike 1km or 4km within the beautiful Kerry Wood Nature Centre Sanctuary or Run 5km along the city’s scenic riverside trails.
Registration           9:00am
Race Start              10:00am

VIRTUAL Participants are encouraged to complete a Run or Hike in their own time & pace at any destination of their choice while raising funds for Red Deer Hospice.

RACE PACKAGE PICK UP, PLEDGE DROP OFF
Stop by the RSM parking lot (546 Laura Avenue, Red Deer County) just down from the Gasoline Alley Farmer’s Market to pick up your Run Hike for Hospice Race Package or drop off any offline pledges you’ve been collecting!

Friday June 3rd       4:00pm – 7:00pm
Saturday June 4th    10:00am -1:00pm 

Register
Register online by purchasing your tickets.  Registration fee is $25.
Free for kids ages 12 and under (registration is still required to get a shirt).
For those registering after May 1st, we will have a limited quantity of shirts available on a first come, first served basis.

Fundraise
Help support Red Deer Hospice by collecting pledges & fundraising on our behalf. CanadaHelps.ca makes it easy for you and your team to collect donations virtually.  You can even customize your fundraising page and share about your personal connection to Red Deer Hospice.  Prizes will be awarded for top fundraisers!
​Don’t want to fundraise yourself? Donate to one of our Hikers or Runners that is already registered!
Connect
What else can you do to celebrate the life of a loved one & raise awareness around end of life care in Central Alberta?:
  • Print off one of our pre-made window hangers to help let your neighbors know you are supporting Red Deer Hospice.
  • Have someone you are Running or Hiking in honor of? Feel free to send us a picture along with their name to [email protected] and we will share it with everyone in our public “In Honor Of Album” (found on our Website & Facebook Event).
  • Make a connection with us on social media by tagging @RedDeerHospice on FB or @rdhospice on Instagram & using the #hikeforhospicerd2022 or #runforhospicerd2022


​For more information, contact our Event Coordinator at 403-309-4344 ext 109 or by email.

Picture
*For those registering after May 1st, we will have a limited quantity of shirts available on a first come, first served basis.

 

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