A young T’Challa at T’Challaween on Oct. 31, 2020

Get Ready for T’Challaween — a South End Tribute to Our Heroes

by Victor Simoes

The South Seattle Emerald’s third annual costume parade, T’Challaween — A South End Tribute to Our Heroes, returns on Saturday, Oct. 29, 1–4 p.m. As in previous years, the parade takes place along the Beacon Hill Stay Healthy Street — beginning on 18th Avenue South and South College Street and ending at Jefferson Park (via the South Spokane Street entrance).

Named after the Black Panther character T’Challa, to honor the late actor Chadwick Boseman, the event started in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reminder that in times of great challenges, we can take up our own “superpowers” and become heroes in our own communities. In past events, kids and adults have dressed up as their favorite superheroes and enjoyed socially distant (and creative) ways of candy distribution. But more than just dressing up, T’Challaween is an opportunity to honor those we admire, whether a frontline worker, teacher, or fictional hero. 

Trick-or-treaters at T’Challaween 2021
Trick-or-treaters at T’Challaween 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Besides the classic parade, which participants can join at any point along the route, and candy tossers stationed along the walk, this year’s T’Challaween will partner with South End Public Market to host an outdoor “Moon Market” with local art and gifts by Seattle-based artists and artisans. The market will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Jefferson Park off Spokane Street, at the end of the parade route.

“We’ve done it twice now, so we have a good template, we’ve learned a lot,” said Jessie McKenna, operations manager at the South Seattle Emerald

This time around, the Emerald team has even more sponsors and resources than in previous years. “And we have Michael [McPhearson], our new executive director, who is heading up that this year, and so it’s really great to have him on board,” said McKenna. “He’s so excited about the event, he really gets it and has embraced it wholeheartedly. And so it’s really nice to just have a great team working on it.”

T’Challaween organizers point out that this is an event designed by the community, for the community, and only possible through community effort. 

Interested in volunteering? Currently, T’Challaween still needs 20 more volunteers to help at this year’s parade, including roles for Setup Crew, Ambassadors, Candy Tossers, Floaters, and Tear-Down Crew. More information can be found in the volunteer registration form

“Every year, we get more people who want to participate, and they’re behind the scenes and help make it happen,” said McKenna. “It’s a community of attendees, neighbors, people who live along the parade route; all of those people make the event what it is, not just because of their presence, but because of how they show up, whether it’s decorating their house, putting together cool candy chutes for the kids along the parade route, or doing bubbles or other fun activities. We are so grateful for the way that people embrace it and make it their own.”

Created to be a pandemic-safer way to trick or treat, the parade is still looking to reduce COVID-related risks. Masks and social distancing are still required to join the one-mile walk. A virtual livestream of the event will be available on the Emerald’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Organizers also highlight this as an event dedicated to the entire community of the South End. The parade is not a Beacon Hill event — it just happens to take place on Beacon Hill. 

“We hope that with its close proximity to light rail and bus lines and with ample street parking in the neighborhood, that people from all over South Seattle will always feel welcome to attend and claim it as their own,” said McKenna.

Check out the Emerald’s photo essay of last year’s T’Challaween, and prepare to show out for a uniquely South End Halloween celebration next Saturday.

Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 10/24/2022 to correct typos and update the number of volunteers needed from “five” to “20.”

Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.

📸 Featured Image: A young T’Challa at T’Challaween on Oct. 31, 2020. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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