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West Hollywood revelers are a treat

400,000 people were expected at the annual costume extravaganza. Students marked the holiday in Isla Vista.

November 01, 2009|Robert Faturechi and Nicole Santa Cruz

Massive crowds -- young rowdy revelers, families, older couples -- flocked to the annual West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval on Saturday night.

More than 400,000 people were expected at the event, which featured live entertainment and an official (and unofficial) parade of crazy costumes. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds danced around a raised stage featuring two DJs. People gathered around an artist chalking a massive face on the asphalt. Bars on and off the celebration's main path along Santa Monica Boulevard brimmed with patrons.

Spectators crowded around people in the more outrageous costumes, including a man with a noose around his neck and a group of older men who call themselves "The Rainbow Brides" with red, green and yellow wedding dresses.

Others chose tamer outfits. Julian Higgins, 23, and his girlfriend, Wei-Ning Iu, 26, of Hollywood, strolled along Sunset Boulevard dressed in Hogwarts outfits, a nod to the magic school in the Harry Potter novels. Asked whether he was a fan, Higgins -- looking less than excited -- said, "Not really. She got her costume and I had to find something to go with it."

Some revelers were more subtle, taking playful jabs at current events or abstract ideas. One wore a costume he called the "Scary Public Option," a reference to the healthcare reform debate.

Erica Elson, 23, a screenwriter from Hollywood, wore what appeared to be regular street clothes, but a cardboard cube dangled from her wrist on a piece of yarn. "Writer's block," she said meekly.

Not everyone was in costume. J.R. Miller, 26, of Inglewood leaned against the railing on the main drag dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, smoking a cigarette.

"I just wanted to be me this year," he said.

Miller, who was attending West Hollywood's celebration for the first time, planned to spend the rest of his night soaking up the scene.

"I've seen a lot of craziness," he said. "It's a new experience"

The event, which stretched along about a mile of Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard, resulted in street closures and heavy traffic.

Lt. John Ratto of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said that given all the people in the area, the celebration was a calm one. "It's been very nice," he said.

Up the coast from Los Angeles was another large Halloween party.

For more than 30 years, college students from across California have been descending on Santa Barbara County's Isla Vista neighborhood for the Halloween weekend. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people were expected Saturday night in the Isla Vista area, adjacent to UC Santa Barbara, prompting police to increase patrols for the celebration, said Lt. Kelly Moore of the county Sheriff's Department.

The three-day party is expected to wind down today, with a few stragglers who are die-hard partygoers, Moore said. "They are going to get every penny out of that costume," he said.

David Cunningham, a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, said people get "packed like tuna" during Halloween.

Alex Cruz, a junior at the university, lives in the most popular party area of Isla Vista. He held a party Thursday and Friday and planned to hold one Saturday night. .

Cruz, who dressed up as a wizard in a Snuggie, said the Isla Vista Halloween experience might even be a little crazier than Mardi Gras.

"It's probably the only place in California where you can find Lady Gaga, construction workers and ninja turtles all in the same street," he said.

Well, maybe not the only place. There's West Hollywood, after all.

"It's very festive and exciting," Reshae Fann of Northridge said of the L.A. area festival. "I didn't expect this many people. It's massive. I've never been to anything this big."

--

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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