Donors rally to continue celebration on sculpture trail after Covid-19 concerns cancel parade
Covid-19 stopped the Rutland Halloween parade this year – and also inspired plans for an exuberant addition to the Rutland Sculpture Trail.
Organizers have announced a larger-than-life sculpture will honor parade godfather Tom Fagan and the parade.
It will be unveiled around Halloween 2021.
Design hasn’t started, but organizers plan for Fagan, known as “Mr. Halloween” in Rutland, to be paired with a mystery character associated with the parade.
“The Halloween parade is part of the fabric of the community, and Tom Fagan wove that section of it,” said Steve Costello, Green Mountain Power vice president and one of the sculpture trail organizers.
“Who Tom will be paired with will remain a mystery until the design is unveiled sometime this winter.”
Fagan, a journalist and book editor in Rutland, was involved in the parade from its start in 1959. He instilled a superhero theme the second year, which helped to build the parade from a small local attraction into a nationally recognized phenomenon. Fagan’s friends in the comic book industry traveled to Vermont to attend, bringing rare superhero costumes to the downtown spectacle. Afterwards, they enjoyed raucous parties in a mansion on the city’s edge in the early years of the parade.
The parade became part of storylines in multiple comic books, including the first crossover of characters between DC and Marvel comic books, and Avengers No. 83 in 1970, the first of at least 20 to feature Rutland’s parade. The 15-cent issue now sells for hundreds of dollars if in pristine condition.
Heritage Family Credit Union, the lead sponsor of the sculpture, was represented at the announcement by Captain Credit Union, Heritage’s own superhero. “Tom Fagan was a superhero himself in making the parade something unique and special for generations of Rutlanders,” Captain Credit Union said at the announcement, Thursday, Oct. 8. “I can’t wait to see how my brethren might be represented in the sculpture.”
While the parade has long been on a list of possible sculpture subjects, funding for any piece is dependent on donations from businesses, individuals and organizations. Carol Driscoll, executive director of the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, said potential funders quickly rallied around this project after the parade cancellation. “In just a few weeks, the funding was in place, thanks to the incredible connections people have with the parade, and generosity that is emblematic of this community,” she said.
Kim Peters, superintendent of the Rutland Recreation Department, said she was thrilled by the support for the sculpture, especially given the parade’s cancellation. “People genuinely love this parade, and I have a feeling they are going to love this sculpture as well,” she said. “I can’t wait to see it!”
“PEGTV has been recording and cablecasting the Rutland City Halloween Parade for more than 25 years,” said Executive Director Tom Leypoldt. “We are thrilled to continue our association with this epic event by permanently acknowledging Tom Fagan’s legacy. The Rutland City Halloween Parade is an iconic local tradition. At PEGTV, Channels 107.5, 108.5 and 109.5, we are honored to be a part of such an amazing tribute.”
“As the most iconic celebration of community in Rutland, the parade has been something my family has looked forward to every year,” Russ Marsan said. “Like many families in the community, we were sad to see it canceled, but we understand. We hope that this announcement injects some excitement into the community around the holiday.”
“We are very excited to be a part of this,” Sotheby’s Laurie Mecier-Brochu said. “The parade is such a unique Rutland event – it even has a Wikipedia page – and the sculpture will commemorate it for generations to come.”
The Rutland Sculpture Trail is an initiative led by the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, Green Mountain Power, MKF Properties, and Vermont Quarries to create art and interest in downtown, generate community pride, and highlight important local and regional history.
The sculptures are presented as gifts to the city.