Halloween in April could become new Milwaukee tradition.
At three bars in Milwaukee’s fifth ward, patrons are dressed in costumes celebrating one of their favorite holidays. No, it’s not Halloween. It’s Hallowang.
The holiday is a celebration for people who don’t want to wait for next Halloween to dress up in costumes and have a good time. Hallowang’s creator is a 32 year-old Milwaukee man who goes only by the name, House Cat. Working at an insurance company downtown, House Cat is concealing his real identity because he doesn’t want people at work to know he is involved in “monkey business.”
The man of mystery explains how the idea for Hallowang came about, “I was drunk. I was standing in the corner of this bar and I was thinking, ya, second Halloween. What could I call it? And I’m thinking Halloweenie? Hallowong?
Hallowang? And that’s it. And it sounded right” said House Cat.
For the past few years on the last Saturday in April, partygoers have been getting together to celebrate Hallowang. What started as a small group of friends going on a pub crawl has grown into an event with a website, a Facebook group page, and even sponsors. This year’s sponsors include Walkers Pint, Fat Daddy’s, Fifth Ward Pub & Grill, The Rave, and local radio station FM 102.1. Hallowang’s popularity has already spread to other states. Emily, who is dressed as a golfer tonight, drove up from Chicago to take part in the festivities and explained one of her reasons for doing so, “Any excuse to dress up, always.
And really, why not?” said Emily.
People like Emily are what get House Cat really excited about his Holiday. He doesn’t want Hallowang to be confined to one area or within one group of friends. In fact, he doesn’t even mind if people don’t celebrate Hallowang on Hallowang. He believes that Hallowang is a state of mind. He wants people to keep the spirit of Hallowang with them all year round, and he doesn’t want Hallowang to be about him, another reason for concealing his identity. House Cat would prefer to fade into the dark as Hallowang grows bigger.
The night starts off with a bus ride to the fifth ward, provided by Fat Daddy’s, to ensure no one is drinking and driving. Each bar is packed at one time or another as the group divides their time between establishments. Pat White is part owner of Fifth Ward Pub & Grill. He got involved with Hallowang through a friend and hopes the partnership will become a tradition, “They approached us, a friend of a friend. He likes the place and hangs out here.
It’s an up and coming area. I figured maybe he could host it next year and years on after that. It’s a great little thing they have going here” said White.
Each place has activities going on. This year’s festivities include tom foolery and contests like a rock paper scissors showdown, pitcher races using straws, a Frogger tournament and of course a costume contest. Winners of the contest will receive bragging rights, tens of dollars, and a concert ticket.
Tonight, House Cat is wearing a costume that resembles a giant piece of excrement. He calls this a “Pu Pu Platter.”
Not everyone who attended Hallowang thought it was necessary to wear a costume, like college student Kyle Griffin, who regrets this decision, “I feel like kind of a d bag for not wearing a costume so I just have to drink more. I wish I was wearing a costume so I could fit in.” said Griffin.
As for the contest, House cat explains how contestants can find out if they won, “Tomorrow I’m going to take a few Aspirin and update my website” says House Cat, “There’s one judge at each bar and then they pick their favorite costumes, and they’re going to see their names posted on my website tomorrow or maybe Monday morning.”
It may not be the most traditional way to conduct a costume contest but that’s exactly the kind of thing that distinguishes Hallowang from Halloween. Hallowang may not yet have as many traditions as Halloween. It may not have its popularity. But for these Hallowangers it’s enough to tide them over until October.