It’s Halloween in New Orleans, my town and America’s most haunted city. Skeletons are coming out of the closet and onto front porches. The city’s full of ghosts and goblins, but spirits of another kind are present all year round in NOLA, making their way out of bars and into the streets where drinking in plastic “go cups” is permitted.
Second only to Mardi Gras for costumes and festive attire, Halloween gives New Orleanians one more reason to decorate their houses, as if they really need one. Some places get really, er, tricked out.
Even the neighborhood businesses partake in the festivities.
Uptown in the Carrolton neighborhood, someone transformed a home into a monster museum.
“The First Halloween. Dead Vinci.”
“Ghoul With a Bat Earring.”
People begin the decorating with purple and gold in January for Mardi Gras and then, after a short break during the summer, it’s orange and black for Halloween, then pretty much straight through to red and green for Christmas. When the ornaments come off the Christmas trees, it’s just about time for Mardi Gras again.
There’s a parade for just about any festivity in The Big Easy, and on Halloween, revelers dress up for one that rolls down Frenchman Street. To get scared out of your wits there’s the Mortuary, a haunted house open only on Halloween or the family friendly Scout Island Scream Park in City Park.
But beware–you can scare yourself in New Orleans any time of the year by touring of the city’s many haunted places and, if you dare, spending the night in one of the haunted hotels where you may share your room with a ghost or two.
A bit of vampire culture is still alive in NOLA and some people still privately practice Voodoo (it’s “vodou” here.) If you’re into it, you can visit the vodou shop Island of Salvation Botanica. The proprietor, Sallie Ann Glassman, is of Ukrainian Jewish descent and relocated to New Orleans from Maine where she became a Vodou priestess. Step inside for a crystal reading or have Glassman customize a candle with medicinal herbs for you.
Take a cemetery tour where you’ll learn why bodies are buried on top of each other and why there has to be a year between burials in the same crypt.
Just some random window I passed on a walk.
There are 42 cemeteries in New Orleans, and at least eight worth visiting. The “Vodou Queen” Marie Laveau, who died in 1891, is buried in cemetery St. Louis No. 1, but you can only visit this cemetery with a licensed tour guide. If you visit Lafayette Cemetery, you can pop across street to the famed Commander’s Palace restaurant where they serve 25 cent martinis at lunch. Down a few of those and you’ll make the place one of your regular haunts.
All Photos by Robin Plaskoff Horton.