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Gory Daze a Frightening Success

  • Opeyemi Parham dances as the Celebration Brass Band leads the Gory Daze parade in White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 27, 2018. Parham, of Easthampton, Mass., describes herself as a Ceremonialist, who uses music and dance to help heal people. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Gory Daze parade marchers go under the overpass headed into downtown White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 27, 2018. The parade started at the Main Street Museum and ended at the Engine Room. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Diana Leviene's translucent butterfly costume is illuminated by police car lights as she and approximately 300 marchers go around the block in downtown White River Junction, Vt., during the Gory Daze parade on October 27, 2018. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Mandie Savard, of Enfield, N.H., poses in her punk zombie costume while Micah Porter, of White River Junction, Vt., dressed as the gatekeeper of the museum, teases her at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction on Oct. 27, 2018. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Wyatt Manobla, as Cruella de Vil, holds Belka, a friend's dog, while looking at a taxidermied coyote on display at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 27, 2018, before the Gory Daze parade. Manobla owns Dusty's Palace, a clothing and costume shop in White River Junction. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Chloe Rogers, 9, of North Hartland, Vt., dressed as Wonder Woman, watches zookeeper Hilary Mullins feed popcorn to a creature caged in the Monster Petting Zoo at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 27, 2018. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Chirs and Paolo Bentivoglio, of Hanover, N.H., dance to music of Pariah Beat at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 27, 2018, prior to the Gory Daze parade. The band's lead singer Nick Charyk is at right. (Rick Russell photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2018

O, how Lincoln Galenski loves to be in that number, when the saints go marchin’ into the streets of downtown White River Junction with an entourage of pagans and sinners and prehistoric beasts and Marvel superheroes and uber-villains on the last Saturday night in October.

Braving a steady drizzle with at least 200 other marchers in last weekend’s 15th anniversary Gory Daze Parade, the 9-year-old Lincoln, of Thetford, entered the orange-fabric belly of a Tyrannosaurus rex and bobbed and weaved and pirouetted to the Big Easy rhythms of the Celebration Brass Band.

Lincoln’s companions along Bridge, Main, Gates and Church streets and back along Main to the Freight House complex included a letter-jacketed teen werewolf, scary clowns and a middle-school-aged King T’Challa from Black Panther, as well as several Wicked-inspired witches, assorted pirates, a polar explorer and a skunk. There was a crowned Monarch butterfly and several other species with LED-lit gossamer wings, a Ghostbuster and a Cruella de Vil with a five o’clock shadow, too.

“I think it’s been eight years now we’ve been coming, since almost before he could walk,” Justin Galenski said of his son’s participation during the pre-parade party in the Main Street Museum. “In the past he’s come as a punk rocker, as Toto. … It’s been great, seeing (the parade) grow.”

“It’s become a family tradition.”

That’s music to the ears of Main Street Museum founder David Fairbanks Ford, who organized the first Gory Daze celebration early in the new century, in the predawn of the village’s downtown renaissance that saw the sprouting of restaurants, shops, Northern Stage’s Barrette Center for the Arts and the Center for Cartoon Studies.

“Not that long ago, we really did call White River Vermont’s favorite ghost town,” Ford, donning black tights and a fencer-like black mask and hood, said before the parade. “There wasn’t nearly as much going on. We just went out and did the parade the first year, and the Hartford police were really unsure what was going on. But they were great: They just told us afterward, ‘Next year give us a call, so we know what you’re doing.’ ”

In addition to the parade, which two Hartford cruisers escort with flashing lights, Ford organizes an activity-filled Gory Daze event with his museum team of volunteers, working in concert with Hartford’s department of parks and recreation, the Junction Teen Center and other public and private agencies.

The party starts in daylight with a 5-kilometer road race and a Trunk-or-Treat gathering (which was delayed by the weather this year), and runs through the evening with music at Newberry Market, a fortune-telling session with psychics and the pre-parade party in the museum, featuring snack food, dance music from Windsor band Pariah Beat, and a sort-of-petting zoo in a pen full of cartoon-ish monsters. And after the parade, costume balls break out — one for grown-ups, one for teens.

“When we moved to the Upper Valley in 2003, we didn’t know about White River,” Kelly Hyson said while setting up her table with husband and fellow psychic Paul Hyson in the museum’s reading room. “We were living in Grantham, and we didn’t spend a lot of time here. … What we kept hearing about it was that it was Skid Row, that it wasn’t safe to go there.”

Then the Elixir restaurant opened in the Freight House complex off South Main street, and “we started exploring around town,” Paul Hyson added. “We moved to town in 2014, and it’s really wonderful … just to be in the middle of things that are happening.”

Not a lot seemed to be happening for the first hour of this year’s pre-parade party, where Pariah Beat singer Nick Charyk wore a rabbit’s ears and nose and deer antlers, was setting a rockin’ rhythm for dancing for an enthusiastic but initially thin crowd of revelers. Then a little after 7, an hour before the kickoff of the parade — and of the first pitch of Game 4 of the World Series — the undead, the unwashed and the unfazed started filling the dance floor and spilling into the museum’s Addams Family-esque exhibits.

Here a 3-foot-tall cop with blue flashing lights in the soles of his shoes, there an even-smaller fairy princess with pink cape and golden curls.

Now a snow-white angel with a red, forked tail dangling out the rear. Then a deep-sea diver in a domed suit reminiscent of 1950s B-movies, and the Abominable Snowman (aka Bumble) from the 1960s animated TV adaptation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Finally, Ford, clad in black as a masked nobleman named Roderick Murgatroy, steered the partiers out the museum’s front door and onto Bridge Street, where the Celebration Brass Band was tuning up with an instrumental version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

Yet more zombies and mummies and a black-robed figure in a white Guy Fawkes mask materialized out of the mist, many lumbering and lurching across the bridge that spans the White River. Oh, and another Ghostbuster, accompanied by a sailor-suited Stay Puft marshmallow man. And a pale clown with white-gloved hands projecting from the top of his head and from all around his torso and legs.

Over the next hour, with Lincoln Galenski near the front of the pack, these gods and monsters would march, with stops to serenade patrons of the Filling Station bar on Gates Street — from the doorway of which torches blazed — and Main Street restaurants such as Thyme and Tuckerbox, where some diners pulled out their phones to take pictures.

“I guess you could call it the anti-Mardi Gras,” Ford said before herding his followers toward Main Street with a wave of his staff. “Or maybe its dark sister.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveauvnews.com and at 603-727-3304.