Honey for the Heart parade to return to Uptown Athens on Oct. 29

Published: October 24, 2022 Author: Macklin Caruso

After a three-year hiatus, the Honey for the Heart parade will return to Uptown Athens for what is bound to be an outlandish homecoming for one of Athens’ most cherished Halloween past times.

“Our mission is to make visual the spirit of Athens,” said Patty Mitchell, one of the parade’s founders. “It is just a spectacle of delight.”

Using upcycled materials, the parade will feature larger-than-life puppets and participants dressed in magnificent and otherworldly costumes. The parade will line up at 5 p.m.  Oct. 29 on Fern Street and march onto Court Street, down Union Street and return to Central Avenue.

Honey for the Heart is a project by Athens’ Passion Works Studio, an Athens-based art studio known for its vibrant displays and rainbow-colored palette. The parade is co-sponsored by Arts for OHIO, an OHIO College of Fine Arts initiative providing access to arts events at no charge to Ohio University students; and Ohio University Learning Communities, 98% of first-year students  are in a learning community where they take a common set of courses and a seminar class supported by a Learning Community Leader and instructor.

Honey for the Heart is an Athens favorite and has been sorely missed by locals who have eagerly awaited its return since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Up until pre-pandemic there were people five-feet deep standing on the sidewalks waiting for the puppet parade to come,” said Mitchell, who is also the executive director and founder of Passion Works.

When it was announced that the parade would return, Learning Community Seminars had the opportunity to sign-up to go to the Honey for the Heart studio as a class.  They could not sign up fast enough.

“We knew it would be popular,” said Barb Remsburg, director of OHIO’s Learning Community Programs. “People have been asking for information since the very beginning of August.”

“I am a Learning Community Leader, so I took my Learning Community class there to volunteer and help make costumes and everyone had a blast,” said Juliana Colant, a third-year student majoring in journalism. “Everything Honey for the Heart makes is very unique and it was a fun afternoon doing creative crafts and engaging with the community.”

Mitchell sees Honey for the Heart as an expression of the spirit of Athens, a community long known for its celebratory Halloween spirit. The parade began in 2012 and quickly took hold as an Athens Halloween staple. Mitchell drew inspiration for the parade from the Mayday Parade in Minneapolis, Minn., which is put on by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, a local puppet company.

“It was an opportunity to look at Athens Halloween and take the chance to love it into its next life,” Mitchell said. “It is the talk of the town once it is over.”

Mitchell is a two-time Ohio University graduate (BFA ’87, MFA ’91) who has elected to make Athens her home. She opened Passion Works 24 years ago not only make art that reflects the Athens community, but also to provide a space for artists with and without developmental differences to create art together.

“I love that about Athens. We make our own fun and we create the community we want to live in,” Mitchell said.

Remsburg is hopeful that the return of Honey for the Heart will be a defining memory for first-year students experiencing the spirit of Athens for the first time.

“We know that students want to be engaged and this is something that the whole class is able to do and do something new together,” she said.