This year will be the 52nd annual Rutland Vermont Halloween Parade. Our parade has a long and distinguished history as the home of heroes. One of the founders of the parade, the late Tom Fagan, was a writer, artist and comic book fan. He did more to put this city and state on the map in the collective geek mind than any other single individual. He not only got the parade publicized in written pieces in a number of Marvel and DC comic books in the early sixties, he convinced numerous comic writers and artists to attend the parade in costume, hosting them in his own home.
Between the mid-1960′s and early 1980′s we had the Joker, Plastic Man, and Dr. Strange roaming the streets of Rutland, along with Batman, the Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Medusa, Wasp, Quicksilver, Vision, Captain America, the Red Skull, Nighthawk, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern and Havok. Thor and Sif, along with the Norn Queen, had their own float in 1970, a parade that drew more than 5,000 spectators. Comic book creators known to have attended the parade over the years include Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Bernie Wrightson, Dennis O’Neil, Roy Thomas, Alan Weiss, Wendy and Richard Pini, Dave Cockrum, and Len Wein.
During that time the parade was featured or at least mentioned in quite a few DC and Marvel comic titles, even showing up in WaRP Graphics Thunderbunny #5. Tom passed away Oct. 21, 2008, just before the 49th annual parade.
Our parade will be visited by a different sort of hero this year. People from the Occupy Rutland movement, who have rallied downtown for the past three Saturdays, will be marching in the parade. There is some local opposition to their participation, on the grounds that they are attempting to preempt a children’s event for their nefarious purposes. Considering past parades’ protest floats, no one expects the Rec Dept to rescind their permission. The Occupiers will have a chance to get their message out to a larger and different audience than their Saturday protests.
At the farmers market yesterday a couple of older gentlemen stopped at my booth and we were chatting when one mentioned that he was there because his wife was across the street holding up a sign supporting teachers. They’re retired, and she has never done anything of the kind before, but this time she felt she had to stand with her sister and brother teachers. Her husband expressed his admiration and pride that she was out there in the bitter cold, standing up to the 1%.
Well, she and her fellow Occupiers will march tomorrow night. They may not be masked avengers, but they are all our heroes.