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HighBall Halloween is back in person with some changes

The event will be in-person this year, with EXPRESS LIVE! hosting and new safety protocols in place.
Credit: WBNS 10TV
Models Rian Ismadia and Alanna G Rex show off HighBall Halloween costumes created by designers Shiree Houf and Rachel Katz, respectively.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 may have tricked HighBall Halloween out of the treat of an in-person event last year, but the event is ready for a big return this weekend.

“It is such a special event for our community in the Short North Arts District, and it means so much to everyone that we can do it again,” said Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance. This will be the 14th year for HighBall Halloween, dubbed the nation’s most elaborate costume party. Designers create three ready-to-wear costumes along with one flagship piece.

And longtime designer Shiree Houf is ready. She’s been involved for a decade.

“It would feel wrong to not do HighBall at this point,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being with people. I’m looking forward to seeing the other designers, being able to hug them and see their creativity and work with hair and makeup and everyone to see all the wonderful creativity.”

The creativity was still on display during last year’s virtual event, but many of the designers have been craving that in-person magic that an event like this can create.

For Rachel Katz, this year marks a big transition, from model to designer.

“Not only is Halloween my favorite holiday, HighBall is my favorite event, so I couldn’t be more excited that they’re doing it again this year, and they’re doing it as safely as possible so everybody can enjoy the show," said Katz. 

The event is moving from High street to EXPRESS LIVE! this year, and safety protocols will be in place. Attendees are required to show proof of vaccination and to wear masks. And capacity will be limited to 4,000 people.

Pandora says these protocols will mean people can feel safe while still enjoying all the fun, pointing out that, of all holidays, Halloween is the perfect time to wear a mask. And Columbus is the perfect city to host.

“We do it here in the fashion capital of Columbus,” she said. “Many people aren’t aware that Columbus has the third-largest fashion and design workforce in the country. And many folks in that industry live and work in the Short North Arts District and really the event organically has grown into a real celebration of our creative community here in Columbus.”

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