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Hundreds Haunt Harvard Square for Halloween Block Party

The Harvard Square Business Association and the City of Cambridge hosted a Halloween block party in the Square over the weekend.
The Harvard Square Business Association and the City of Cambridge hosted a Halloween block party in the Square over the weekend. By Charles K. Michael
By Nicole L. Guo and Olivia W. Zheng, Contributing Writers

A Halloween block party lit up Harvard Square over the weekend, bringing live artists, excited crowds, and glowing art installations to JFK Street ahead of the holiday.

Organized by the Harvard Square Business Association and the City of Cambridge, Harvard Square’s Illuminated Halloween Block Party drew hundreds of Cambridge and Boston area residents Friday and Saturday evening, from children dressed up as astronauts and princesses to adults masquerading as pirates and ghouls.

The celebration featured a variety of performances, including classic rock band Rumboat Chili on Friday and Berklee College of Music student Lumanyano Mzi on Saturday.

Harvard Square was transformed into a light show during the celebration, with many attendees wearing glowing bracelets against the backdrop of a dynamic art installation, which projected scenes and optical illusions on the sides of buildings lining the street.

Also lighting up the Square was an interactive installation by art studio Pneuhaus called “Canopy,” which used bike-driven generators to inflate and illuminate vibrant neon tree sculptures. Children and adults alike lined up to pedal the bikes and power the exhibit.

Pneuhaus co-founder Levi Bedall said the project helped people understand energy in a unique way, adding that it could make the idea of “going green” feel “more tangible.”

“Power can be generated through lots of ways,” Bedall said. “As simple as turning a wheel with your legs, you can create power to power LEDs and a fan, which I think is hard to really get your mind around.”

Attendees also said they appreciated the participation of local businesses in addition to the immersive art installations.

“It’s nice to see people getting together in their communities and appreciating the local businesses and coming together to appreciate the arts, and the music is really good,” said attendee Rebecca L. Rutherford.

El Jefe’s Taqueria hosted a beer garden that bustled with activity both nights, and Russell House Tavern was also packed with partygoers during the celebration.

“It’s a very nice sort of social escape for a lot of people at this point with everything going on,” said attendee Ahmad A. Naqvi, a post-doctoral student at Harvard Medical School.

As fun as it was for many residents to celebrate in costume in Harvard Square, the Halloween theme was the product of coincidence — the block party was originally intended to coincide with the 58th Head of the Charles Regatta, but was postponed by a week due to rain.

Organizers quickly rebranded the event to match its rescheduled dates, which fell right before Halloween.

Regardless of the party’s theme, Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said she was glad to see so many residents turn out for the celebration.

“The decision was made to attempt to create a little street that would be more pedestrian-friendly on the weekend,” Jillson said. “It’s really lovely to build a community that’s safe and clean and welcoming.”

“When you have events like this and the community responds, and they come out to support it, it feels good, and it feels like an accomplishment,” she added.

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