Park City Museum lecture will revisit past Halloween celebrations in town
Presentation will be in person and on Zoom
Halloween is a special holiday in Park City, and the public is invited to hear Park City Museum research coordinator Dalton Gackle talk about “Tales of Park City Halloween” next week.
The presentation, which will start at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, at the museum’s Education and Collections Center, 2079 Sidewinder Drive, and on Zoom, will cover Halloween throughout the town’s history.
“Halloween is one of my favorite things in the world, so I wanted to do a lecture on how it was celebrated in Park City,” said Gackle. “The lecture in general will be about how the holliday has brought the community together, how it impacted the children and how it divided it at different points in history.”
Gackle plans to start with Halloween’s general history throughout the world and the United States, and then delve into the specifics of Park City’s history.
One of the intriguing things about Park City’s celebrations was how the hijinks differed from other communities in the United States.
“This is noticeable in the terms of the ‘trick’ part of trick-or-treating,” Gackle said. “For example, one of the main differences is there tends to be more violence that occurred in other communities where people actually got hurt. But in Park City, no one really got hurt, they were mostly annoyed they were being pranked.”
Gackle will also cover past town-wide Halloween traditions.
“Something that was common in the early 1900s up until around the 1920s was the throwing of a grand ball or masquerade party,” he said. “An organization or someone would announce the party, and invite the whole town to celebrate with them.”
Although there was no Halloween on Main Street as we see today, the town’s merchants would participate in some way or another, Gackle said.
“They would decorate their storefronts and windows, and things like that,” he said.
“Tales of Park City Halloween” marks Gackle’s debut as a lecturer.
“I’ve not given a lecture before, but I’ve been involved in many of the lectures because I run the (Hal Compton) Research Library, where many people who give the lectures do their research and look for photographs,” he said. “So, I kind of decided I would like to give a lecture to see how it goes.”
Much of the information for the Monday presentation was culled from The Park Record, oral histories and other local media outlets, according to Gackle.
“There is a good amount of information that I could put together right away, which is another reason why I chose to talk about Halloween,” he said. “I was happy to see that the community shared my love for the holiday.”
Sometimes his historic Halloween research would open doors to other aspects, such as race and social equity.
“I was doing some research on historic Halloween costumes, and that led me to costumes that were deemed racist and insensitive,” Gackle said. “Those costumes mainly included black face and minstrelsy, which was pretty common back then.”
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