Celebrate Halloween in Anoka

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These haunted cities have nothing on Anoka. Never heard of it? You’re not alone.

Anoka, Minnesota, is a town of fewer than 20,000 people about 20 miles north of Minneapolis. It’s a place for antique shopping on Main Street and canoeing on the lakes and rivers, and this little suburb dominates spooky celebrations.

During the month of October, Anoka is full of haunted houses and scarecrow competitions. A giant, blinking pumpkin sits on top of city hall. Anoka pulls out all the stops to live up to its proudest superlative: Halloween Capital of the World.

Anoka is believed to be the first city in the country to host a Halloween celebration. In 1920, the city threw a parade and bonfire—not to highlight a haunted history but because the town was getting trashed.

A century ago, Halloween was a day for kids to pull pranks around town, and the Minnesota suburb got hit with loose cows, tipped outhouses, and chickens and wheelbarrows on roofs every year.

The Anoka Historical Society recently uncovered a clip from the November 4, 1914, Anoka County Union that illuminates the nature of some of these pranks: “Halloween was exceptionally quiet this year, and little real damage was done. Windows were soaped, fences torn down.”

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