WeHo cancels Halloween Carnaval for third straight year

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city’s famous Halloween Carnaval is being scrubbed again this year, with city officials quietly voting to skip the wildly popular event that was canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Los Angeles Magazine, city leaders decided in late June to cancel the event, but no formal public announcement was ever made. Instead, a notice was posted on the city’s website announcing the cancellation.

While COVID-19 was specifically cited for the cancellations over the past two years, no specific reasoning was given in the city’s latest announcement, which simply says the carnaval “will not take place in 2022.”

“The city encourages the community to creatively and safely celebrate Halloween this year,” according to the notice. “As in 2021, the city encourages businesses to celebrate with patrons by producing small-scale events at stores, restaurants, and more, such as costume events or contests; Halloween-themed meals or drinks at restaurants and bars; Halloween-themed trivia or bingo nights; dressing-up locations with Halloween-themed decorations, and the like.”

The notice makes no mention of COVID-19 or of the growing monkeypox outbreak that is affecting primarily gay men and has elevated case numbers in and around West Hollywood.

West Hollywood Councilman John D’Amico told Los Angeles Magazine that the carnaval — billed as one of the largest Halloween celebrations in the world — may never return, citing issues with public safety, difficulties planning the event and the security costs for the city.

“We canceled it two years in a row. So it sort of doesn’t exist anymore, in some way,” D’Amico said. “Many of us experienced, in some way, a kind of a sense of relief. As much fun as it was, it was incredibly nerve-wracking to make it happen.”

He also suggested that the event — while still attracting thousands of revelers — had been scaled back in recent years, losing its large stages and celebrity participants.

D’Amico was mayor in 2019, the last time the Halloween Carnaval was held. At that time, he said, “The city of West Hollywood’s annual Halloween Carnaval is free, fun and fabulous. It’s always one of the most exciting events of the year.

The city shut down a one-mile stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard from 6 to 11 p.m. that year.

The Halloween Carnaval was first held in 1987, rooted in the foundation of the city’s diverse culture. The event became an annual gathering of phenomenal costumes, entertainment, culture and self-expression with a myriad of observers, revelers, exhibitionists and performers.

People come from all over Southern California to take part in the fun.

In June, after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, the city hosted a return of the WeHo Pride event, which featured three days of activities and a parade with singers Janelle Monae, JoJo Siwa and Cardi B. West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister told LA Magazine that the Pride event, while popular, is small in comparison to the carnaval.

“The crowd on Halloween in much, much larger and packed shoulder to shoulder on that one night than it is on any given night of Pride,” Meister said.

The statement posted on the city’s website announcing the cancellation said the decision was made over the course of many months and involved input and discussion from the City Council, the City Council Ad Hoc Events Subcommittee and City Council Finance and Budget Subcommittee, as well as from city staff and community members providing feedback in comment at public meetings.

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