Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade resurrects to thrill and delight again

Photo from the 2018 (and 18th annual) Little Five Points Halloween Parade and Festival in Atlanta, Ga. on Saturday, October 20, 2018. (Chris Hunt)

In this season of haunting delights, there is none more spooktacular than the Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade, voted one of the best Halloween parades in the country by the Travel Channel. Pre-pandemic, the parade would attract upwards of 70,000 visitors to Little Five, one of our city’s most eclectic and loved neighborhoods. This year, there are a variety of frightful festivities split up over two days, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23. To discuss the mad spectacle, Kelly Stocks, president of the Little Five Points Business Association, joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes along with two of the musicians playing the festival — Katy Graves of El Matador, and Jim Bob Cooter of Gnomonaut.

Kelly Stocks, a local expert with a family history of enjoying the parade since the 1970s, explained how this year’s events mark not just a triumphant return after pandemic cancellations but several years of stymied celebration. “We haven’t had one since 2019. In 2019, too, we got rained out really bad,” said Stocks. “We haven’t really had a full-fledged parade since 2018.” After such an extended hiatus, this year’s visitors to the neighborhood should expect many long-furled freak flags to fly proudly.

Beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, the parade will travel down Moreland Ave. from the Dekalb Ave. access ramps down to Freedom Parkway. Previous years have seen paraders moving down Euclid Ave., but Stocks said the change in route was calibrated to ensure safety, especially for vendors set up on Euclid’s curved road. She also shared how this year’s festival aims to bring back a strong theme of neighborhood pride, saying, “We’re trying to make this festival this year more about us. I feel like in the past it’s kind of gotten away from what Little Five is all about. We’re just trying to go back to the way it started and what it was started for, which was to show people what Little Five has to offer.”

With live music, local business participants and even a movie screening during the parade, this year’s Halloween Festival gives neighborhood visitors plenty of reasons to stick around. Jim Bob Cooter, from featured music act Gnomonaut, professed the band’s festival fandom from years back. “We’re an instrumental band, sort of a heavier instrumental style,” he said. “We came up with this concept about the space gnome. It’s a little weird, which we are, and a little tongue-in-cheek. At the same time, we developed props and visuals based around this mystic space gnome that controls us telepathically … Seems a good fit.”

Katy Graves, known to locals for her band Catfight!, joins the festivities with a newer project, El Matador. “I’m sure we’re not even close to the only band that formed during the lockdown. My significant other and I, Randy Gue, were bored and not going out, not doing anything … and started writing songs, and came up with a full set pretty quickly,” she recounted. “Then we had to hunt around for a drummer, which took a little longer. My son is a drummer. He helped out for a while, but 20-year-old college students are not interested in playing with their parents, shockingly.” Undeterred, El Matador began performing live in the spring, with collage-like songs that nod to the Beat poets, Criterion Channel cinema and political prog punk. 

The bands will set up at the Little Five Points Community Center, with live music taking place on both Saturday and Sunday. Other activities include a freak show, artist market, drag queen karaoke, ghost tours and the Saturday “Monster Hunt,” where treasure-hunters can buy a map of local businesses, take selfies with handmade monster puppets by Shane Morton and win a prize. In addition, the Star Community Bar will host a “Monster Ball” with live DJs, dancing and a costume contest.

The Little Five Points Halloween Parade and Festival takes place Oct. 22-23 throughout the Little Five Points neighborhood and participating businesses. More information and a full schedule of festival events can be found at