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Neewollah Parade returning this Halloween


ROSEBURG, Ore. – Roseburg’s beloved Neewollah Parade will return this Halloween for the first time in three years – bringing flash mobs, plenty of candy and even Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl pirate ship downtown for a haunting good time.

And here’s more welcome news for parents with costumed little trick-or-treaters: Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein will serve as grand marshal for a parade that’s considered part of Roseburg 150 Sesquicentennial events.

Parade participants, who are encouraged to dress in costume, will gather on the Douglas County Courthouse steps, 1036 SE Douglas Ave., at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, for a group photo and kick-off. At 5:20 p.m., the parade will move from the courthouse to Jackson Street, where children are expected to start trick-or-treating from business to business. The goal is for the parade to move south down Jackson to Lane Street and then back again. Jackson Street will be closed to cars.

Roseburg Architect Paul Bentley, who will transform into Captain Jack Sparrow for the entire day on Monday, Oct. 31, said “extra pirates” will join him and wife Terry, aka a pirate wench, to unleash a few surprises aboard the 20-foot Black Pearl, a wooden ship façade stretching across the front of Bentley’s Jackson Street office. With 18 bags of candy already “locked and loaded,” Bentley hopes to persuade more downtown business owners to get involved in the event.

“I hope everybody gets in here and does it up big. It’s been way too long,” he said. “I just really want to see businesses actively participate because the kids have been without it for three years. With everything going on in the world, they need a good, safe place to trick or treat.”

Event organizers including former City Councilor Stacey Crowe and (Re)Discover Downtown co-founder Eric Andrews also have been working on behalf of the community to recruit candy sponsors and volunteers, organize logistics such as loudspeakers and a mobile music permit, and market the event.

“We had to make sure it happened this year. We didn't want this event to go away,” Crowe wrote in an email. She has been involved with the event since shortly after moving to Roseburg in the 1990s.

Roseburg’s Neewollah Parade dates back to Oct. 31, 1933, when the American Legion Umpqua Post 16 staged “a new form of frolic” like others sweeping the nation. The first was held in Kansas in 1919, after communities experienced especially rough Halloween pranks in 1918 just before World War I ended. Roseburg’s Neewollah grew in size and popularity, although the event was cancelled during WW II. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a virtual costume contest and “parade” were held in 2020 and 2021.

A large number of downtown Roseburg businesses are usually closed on Mondays, but this year, many merchants already have committed to be downtown to give out candy, Crowe said. Sponsors including Cascade Community Credit Union, Wicks Emmett, Roseburg Disposal, Kovacs Ice Drilling Equipment, (RE)Discover Downtown, Stinky Dog Grooming, Say Yes to the DJ and Vibe Dance Company have provided funding that will be used to buy bags of candy given to each merchant. Businesses are also buying candy to give out.

“I think the community really needs this,” said Andrews, owner of Origami Creative Co. “A lot of businesses are really excited to have this back.”

Police Chief Klopfenstein, whose two children are now in their late teens, said he’s looking forward to serving as parade grand marshal for the first time and expects he will be easily recognizable amid all the costumed parade-goers.

“I will be dressed up as a police chief,” he said. “I’m just excited to participate. I’ve never attended any of these. I’ve always gone out with my kids trick-or-treating.”

And if all that free candy isn’t quite enough Halloween fun, the word is out that a couple of flash mobs might make appearances. Dancers led by Sarah Brame, an instructor at Vibe Dance Company, are already practicing to flash mob dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” said Summer Fry, who opened Vibe with Kendall Scott in July.

At least eight to 10 broomstick- carrying Roseburg Area Dancing Witches hope to cast a spell as they “Witch Dance” to German singer Peter Fox’s “Schüttel Deinen Speck,” or “Shake Your Bacon,” said Kelly Southern.

Cascade Community Credit Union will have a presence at the event and Umpqua Valley Ambulance crews will hand out candy and glow sticks. Umpqua Community College Baseball players will help with barricades and watch over children.

The parade group photo will be turned into postcards that will be available at some businesses in November to help bring people back downtown and provide a memento of this cherished community event in a digital age when children aren’t used to having actual photos of themselves, added Andrews.

“There’s something to be said about having a photograph from when you were a kid that is kind of lost,” he said.

For more information, check out the Neewollah Parade Facebook page and this City Connection story, “Neewollah: A Monster Tradition.”

                                                            Roseburg architect Paul Bentley and wife Terry Bentley aboard the "Black Pearl" for a past Neewollah.

                                                              Roseburg Area Dancing Witches perform the "Witch Dance" to “Schüttel Deinen Speck,” or “Shake Your Bacon."

                                                               FCC Commercial Furniture "Thriller" Flash Mob at a past Neewollah.

Posted by RoseburgAdmin