Tradition is one of the most important aspects of any holiday or time of year, including Halloween. At Bennington specifically, one of the most significant Halloween traditions is Swalloween, a costume party thrown by Swan, considered one of the biggest parties of the year. However, in light of the COVID pandemic, this was cancelled, and as a result there would have to be some sort of alternative. This presents a challenge; what can be done that adheres to the Commitment of Shared Responsibility set in stone by the administration, but is still a lot of fun and in the same spirit as Swalloween? Moreover, how would this impact the Bennington Halloween tradition in a positive way?
Enter Louis Celt of Canfield. Feeling that there needed to be another way for people to show off their costumes, Celt took inspiration from RuPaul’s Drag Race and organized an event in the form of a runway competition. Lights were brought in thanks to head of the Program and Activity Council Matt Scott, which gave the patio a very spooky atmosphere. Two rows of pumpkins were set up as borders for the walkway, and Dewey’s own Rezzie Y was entrusted with DJing duties. The temperature was noted as being much colder than previous years as well.
To get the hay bales that were used to decorate the runway, Louis worked with Tara Lowary, who runs the Equestrian program at Bennington and owns a local stable called Rhythm Hollow Stables. As the stable houses twenty horses, Tara orders about three hundred dollars’ worth of hay at a time. Fifty dollars’ worth was purchased for the Costume Contest, all of which will be returned to Rhythm Hollow as well. Louis hopes that the contest will happen again next year, perhaps as perhaps in addition to Swalloween instead of in its place.
President of the College Laura Walker, Director of Dining Services Chef Steve and Director of Security Ken Collamore all graciously volunteered to act as judges for the event. All three came to their roles from different perspectives, having worked at the College for different lengths of time and therefore having different knowledge of Bennington Halloween traditions. Having been at the school for nearly twelve years, Ken Collamore has seen his fair share of costumes, trick-or-treating and other fun activities. Both he and Chef Steve agreed that the Costume Contest was the most organized, planned, and sophisticated of various Halloween events that have been held in the past. Laura Walker agreed, despite not having worked at the College as long as her colleagues. In fact, she was somewhat surprised by how seriously many students were taking the celebrations—and as a freshman, I felt the same.
The categories the judges were ranking costumes by were Spookiness, Originality, Accuracy, and Best Overall. and the winners can be found below. Thank you to everyone who participated, and thank you to Louis for organizing such a fun night!
Originality- Sexy Darth Vader/ Punk Rock R2D2 (Alli von Hirschberg)
Accuracy- Billy Idol (John Baller)
Overall- Plague Doctor (Pietrina Poritzsky) Pictured at top
Spookiness- Alien (Lucia Alonso)