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Delaware's Legendary Halloween Loop Night - The Ultimate Halloween Party for Adults

Lars HindsleyBy Lars Hindsley Sun 6 Oct 2013 3:43 PM EST | 6305 Views
(DL) – Where do all those girls in sexy-Halloween costumes wear them? Loop Night! This is your complete guide and history to Wilmington Delaware's Halloween Loop on Loop Night held each year on or around Halloween. Everything you need to know about Loop Night is detailed.

Once you finish this article, jump over to DangerManXX on YouTube to watch Halloween Loop Night coverage by Lars Hindsley a.k.a. DangerMan from present and past Loop Nights. 
Sexy Girl Halloween Outfits
There are places across the world to be certain times of the year. New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro bring to mind Mardi Gras. Germany has Oktoberfest, Black Rock City has Burning Man, Pamplona features Running of the Bulls, and Wilmington, Delaware has the Halloween Loop. Nothing breaks down barriers in inhibition like an event that puts you in a spirited mood. If you've never heard of Wilmington Delaware's Halloween Loop, this event will now join your life experience bucket list for certain. 

What is Loop Night?

Capn Crunch
There is a tradition in Delaware that happens once a year. The over 21 crowd dresses up in costume to circle the city in free school bus shuttle buses in an incessant loop to all the well-known bars and restaurants where most all have live entertainment. Yeah, it's a pub crawl. One like you will never see anywhere else.  

It's hard to visit all the bars – usually as many as 20, so most people settle in to areas of the city where you can walk from bar-to-bar. There is the Trolley Square area, the Riverfront, Downtown, and other favorites. Seasoned veterans of the loop will tell you that attempting to visit every bar isn't what will bring you loads of fun. Be careful, you can spend more time traveling on buses than bars. Occasionally a newer bar or restaurant will go with a best costume contest, it's wise to check the circuit ahead of time and call around if you are the type that makes a sport of winning costume contests. The Halloween Loop or Loop Night has been sponsored by Out & About Magazine for many years. They set the date. Check the end of this article for past and present dates or hit  or call, 302-655-6483.
Batman & Bane
What makes it special is both the sheer number of participants and, of course, the desire to out-do others in your costume selection. Anywhere between 10,000 to in excess of 20,000 people jam the streets and cram the night clubs. 

Why is the Halloween Loop special? The child in all of us has fond memories of creating a Halloween costume and racing from home-to-home as a child filling our sacks with candy. Then as we approach adolescence we reject what we once loved in the name of maturity. It's only when you become an adult you realize what you missed. Delaware's Halloween loop brings back that feeling of excitement as you prepare your costume in advance of the event. You know everyone is going to be in costume, everyone is part of the magic.
Kelly's Logan House
It all happens in Wilmington, Delaware, and on this night Wilmington doesn't play second to any city at Halloween. Each year, downtown Wilmington becomes party central for the over 21 crowd.  Be warned, the largest demographic is the young adult crowd under age 30. Does this mean you can't attend at age 50? Of course you can but be warned, the older you are the less you'll have to identify with unless you bring a party of friends. And loop night almost always brings out large groups of friends and couples. One of the best things about loop night is ensemble costumes. If you want to become a hit with the crowd, pool a group of friends to dress in theme, from a current event couple or group to a cast of a show, cast from a film or even a team. You are only limited by your creativity.
Delaware Loop Night couples
Never to be missed, this is a life experience you can't just show up to; you must participate or experience the embarrassment of being the only person on the planet to show up without a costume.

A number of media outlets converge to spotlight great costumes. I too generally make each Halloween loop night to cover the event in video and print for both the website and the DangerManXX YouTube channel. Check it out for coverage of previous years.

How Loop Night Works

Ice Cream Princess - Grendel (Hunter Rose) - Raggedy AnneWhat happens on Loop Night? Starting at 8pm, the conservative, stuffy banking town of Wilmington undergoes a change. Buses drive in a loop around Wilmington's prominent bars. You pay for a wristband at any bar, and from there you get all-night access to the buses and the bars they hit.

You could spend all night trying to hit every bar, but you better start early. In fact, you should start before the buses begin at the bar where you want to end your night at; subsequently you start at the location you also want to finish. When you finish, you most likely will have reached closing time. At the very least you won't be stranded far from your ride. When the clock strikes midnight and you're texting wild photos to all your friends, that is the time to start making your way back to your starting point bar. 
Loop Night Bus

The Loop Night Crowd

The FlintstonesOver the years I've personally witnessed amazing expressions of originality, and many times as groups. Themes include:

•   The Adamms Family
•   The Knights Who Say Ni (Monty Python & The Holy Grail)
•   The Flintsones (complete with stone wheeled car!)
•   The Brady Kids

The Brady Kids dressed in their jumpsuits complete with racing stripes. They even performed Keep On Movin' in the street accompanied by a boom box which they lip sync'd to during their performances for the crowds. This had people in stitches if you've ever seen that specific Brady Bunch episode. I never found out how The Flintstones showed up with their stone wheeled car, nor how they made entrance into any of the clubs, but they drew a crowd everywhere they travelled. In 2008, one couple dressed as the Hamburgler and his girlfriend was Wendy. Perhaps the most impressive group ensemble seen on Loop Night is the complete cast and extended family of the 1960's TV show The Adamms Family: Gomez and wife Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Lurch, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Thing AND the fully covered in hair cousin Itt! Over the years, groups have become cheap or lazy and you don't see the large detailed themes lost in the past.

In 1985 a regional event took place, a bomb was dropped on a row home in Philadelphia PA. The occupants were looked at as ganja smoking Rastafarians known as MOVE.  A huge group of college students showed up dressed in dreadlocks, burnt t-shirts and huge blunts. At the time a politically incorrect joke like that could be pulled off. Be advised, this doesn't always fly in today's climate. Be careful if you go for dated humorous costumes. This is a event for everyone, and everyone will judge you accordingly. 

S.S. BirdIn 2007 forty or so people constructed a giant cardboard ship built entirely of cardboard boxes, and carried it around dressed as pirates. Their SS Bird was at least 30 feet long. It was simple, it was cheap and it was hilarious. It's a testimony to how large groups of friends or co-workers can think 'outside' the box; or in this case - inside the box. If you go and come up with great ideas, you will draw a crowd and most likely make the local papers, online magazines and print magazines. DangerMan will be there year doing interviews, taking loads of photos and video too! We'll be in costume too –  be ready!

Where's Waldo group ensembleThen there was 2008 when a large contingent of Waldo's stormed the city. It was great. No doubt, no one had to ask where Waldo was that night. Of course, what if a Waldo strayed from the bunch? Heaven forbid they lost a Waldo. They must have caused some serious "Where's Waldo-ing" among the group. Worse yet, if they lose a Waldo, how do they know a Waldo is missing? It is just this type of humor you may stumble across all through-out your evening. A great part of Loop Night is when you find another group which harmonizes well with your own costume or costume ensemble. Anything can happen from memorable photo ops to making new friends. 

Planning Your Loop Night Experience

Pinocchio & Geppetto couples ensembleBefore you consider donning a costume, let's not forget the golden rule: Drive with a designated driver if you drink. Period. All those bars mean drinking. You just don't know how much you plan to drink, and most people don't plan to get drunk, they just do. Some participants go as far as to plan on spending a night with a friend that lives along the loop night circuit. Trolley Square is a good crash zone area often used. 

You may be asking, where do I go to begin my Loop Night? If you can find the downtown city of Wilmington, Delaware, you've found Loop Night. It's that simple. From the big box restaurants on the riverfront by the minor league stadium, to bars in the business district through the infamous Trolley Square area (my favorite spot), there is really no missing Loop Night. People fill the streets like ants and school bus shuttle buses will drive you nuts if you are stuck behind them in traffic.

Start early! This is one party you don't arrive late to. If you do, you lose precious time getting started. You were warned.

This was said once before, it's worth repeating. Park where you intend to end your evening. The buses stop at last call, so don't get stuck at the wrong bar. Parking in the beginning of your night where you plan to end is key.

Take a camera. OK, your cell phone or smartphone may take great shots, but don't miss out some stunning memories and costumes. Besides, that girl or guy you want to meet again may not look the same in costume! Get a picture!

The Rules For A Great Loop Night Costume

Staff Puff on Loop Night1.  EYESIGHT: Your costume should not hinder your eyesight. Darth Vader costumes are great, but between the dark of night and the bars' dim lighting, you simply won't be able to enjoy all the scenery - let alone keep an eye on your friends. Even if you don't mind tough visibility the cold air, each Halloween means your mask can fog up if you wear sealed masks.

2. BATHROOM ACCESSIBLE: This is key, even if you don't drink. If you have to use the bathroom, you don't want folks undressing you in front of the port-o-potty.

3. CASH: Some bars really are not set up for anything other than cash on a night like this. However, the restaurants down by the riverfront & Blue Rocks stadium will serve you late and of course take credit cards. The loop bus wrist band is generally $10.00 each year and once you have it you can ride the buses up to closing time.

4. NO PROPS: Swords and spears are often banned, and people often lose them by the end of the night. If you got a rental, beware. Some bars won't let you in with them if they find them to be even the slightest risk. Anything that looks like a gun, forget about it.

5. BULKY COSTUMES: Much of the time the shuttle buses are standing room only. And the doors are only so big, so remember that when you think about dressing up as a whale. I don't think The Flintstones ever got that car out of Trolley Square. Oh, and to all you girls with angel wings, "Stop smacking me with those things!"

6.  POCKETS: If you can, have access to pockets for your keys and money.

7.  DESIGNATED DRIVER: If you do drink, have one. FYI, I'm always our party's driver and I'm cool with that. Find someone to come along that shares this attitude.

8.  CAMERA: A night like this has so many crazy things going on that you don't want to miss out on capturing something wild, let alone all the great photo ops with others in costume.

9.  I.D.: Last but not least. You don't want to forget it. Even after your wristband, some bars I.D. you twice.

Halloween Loop Night Frequently Asked Questions

Double Dare!
Question: Do I need a costume?
Answer: No. But you will feel foolish without one.
Question: How much money do I need?
Answer: At least $10.00 to get your all access pass to every bar.
Question: Do I need money for the shuttle buses? 
Answer: No. They do like tips. Consider that.
Question: Is Loop Night safe?
Answer: Generally, yes. Drunks abound by night's end. Police presence is heavy.
Question: Where do I park?
Answer:  Park near the bar where you intend to finish your night. 
Question: Where do I pay for my $10.00 wrist band?
Answer: Any venue on the loop. Nowhere else! If they run out of bands and ask a discounted cover, you will pay again when you hit the next bar.  Sales of wrist bands start at 7:00 pm.

The bottom line? The Delaware Halloween Loop is cheap, safe, and loads of fun for the costume enthusiast like a cosplayer or your one-off, last minute party type. 

How Loop Night Began (The History of Loop Night)

PredatorWhere did this now-famous Halloween Loop come from? Uninformed rumors in the early days had people thinking it was sponsored by University of Delaware campus clubs and frats that drove busloads of students into town so they could party. The truth is the Halloween Loop was born from the concept of various loop nights meant to showcase Delaware bands back in the late seventies and early eighties. It first hit streets in 1979. The bar hopping idea was applied to other loops such as the Art Loop, but nothing has taken on the size and recognition of the Wilmington Halloween loop.

On a local level, Wilmington was an extension of the Philadelphia music scene where bands such as the Hooters, the A's, Robert Hazzard, and Tommy Conwell were making names for themselves. Somehow Delaware didn't have a full identity, but these bands were in our midst. Delaware needed a means of breaking our own bands or at least giving them a showcase.

Local radio WSTW's Bob Bowersox had some name recognition with Fine Times Tonight where on Sunday nights local bands were spotlighted. Why not do the same in a live environment? Local
Magazines were competing for market share and this meant they became idea factories for attention of their own. The idea of the Halloween Loop was concieved from a pub crawl. In fact, it wasn't much of a loop at first. It began downtown on Market Street Mall when the street was closed to traffic. By the late 1980's the loop had become a hit and has steadly drawn over 15,000 costumed participants each year. The city, the bars, bands and magazines worked together to market the event. One Magazine, Out & About is the sponsor now. Yet Loop Night doesn't need much in the way of exposure. Now the loop is much grander. All the local and regional publications have photographers in attendance.

Loop Night Is Larger Than Life

Nightwing and BatmanThe Halloween Loop draws bigger crowds each year. It is much broader in coverage than it was its early days. You'll attend the riverfront bars to the Trolley Square bars and many others along the way. Multiple buses transport people from one event to another throughout the city, so each band had exposure and each bar made some money. As mentioned, while the original loops were promoted through all the local magazines, the Halloween Loop eclipsed them all. It has drowned them out. The Halloween Loop is the one loop everyone remembers and seeks out year after year. Its success is easily attributed to the fact that people are an active participant in the experience. We don't just go watch bands, we dress and interact among ourselves. The bands entertain us, the bars keep us in a festive spirit, but the people drive it.

Go for the music and people-watching. You'll most likely meet new and old friends and for the single crowd, Loop Night is the ultimate ice-breaker for meeting prospective dates.

Loop Night Dates:

2013 - Saturday October, 26th.  Shuttle Bus start time: 8pm 12:45 am (last minute stops 1:00 am) #34. (View Pictures at DangerMans Lair on Facebook) (Videos at YouTube)
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