Happy 99th, Carmel-by-the-Sea

The cottage-iest town in California throws its annual birthday-Halloween parade.


IF YOU HAVE A BIRTHDAY that lands on another prominent date on the calendar -- we said "another" there because we'll just correctly assume that your birthday is pretty dang prominent -- then you know that, as a kid, celebrations sometimes got a bit muddled. Or perhaps "artfully combined" is the better way to phrase it. Those who were born on Feb. 14 probably saw an icing heart or two, atop their birthday cakes, and people who made a Thanksgiving Day debut have likely enjoyed a few turkey sandwiches, as their birthday dinner, over the decades. But the luckiest of all kids, we'll just flatly state, were those kids born on Oct. 31. This meant that every birthday party was also a costume party, growing up, and the candy stayed pretty free-flowing, too. We'll leave it those people born on Dec. 31 or the Fourth of July to recite the merits of having a day-of-birth match up with a major holiday while we pause to wish Carmel-by-the-Sea a very happy 99th. The notable birthday is coming up, this fall, and, yes, you guessed it: Carmel was founded on Oct. 31, 1916.

WE SAY "YOU GUESSED IT"... because the town could be a setting for an atmospheric autumn tale, perhaps a tale that takes place on Halloween. Thank all of those storybook cottages and romantic lanes, and thank its perennially artistic, creativity-first outlook. Halloween is, in fact, the perfect birthday for the picturesque burg to have, and the town makes it even more picturesque with a birthday-slash-Halloween parade each and every year. The 2015 parade is on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 11 a.m., and revelers will be out in full make-up and strange get-ups, all to honor both the city and the spooky celebration. It's free to join or watch and there's a five-buck hot dog lunch to follow at the Sunset Center. Which kind of feels right, for a birthday, the whole sweet everyone-dig-in hot dog lunch. There's lots planned for Carmel-by-the-Sea's big centennial in 2016, but 99 feels fine, especially when it arrives with a dose of fun fright on Halloween morning.

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