‘Harbor Halloween’ brings spooky movies, pumpkin carving, pet costume contests to National Harbor

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Harbor Halloween' at National Harbor (Part 1)

October is a busy time for parents marking their calendars to plan fun outings for the family.

Look no further than the annual “Harbor Halloween” at National Harbor on Sunday, Oct. 22.

“We had a great turnout last year,” director of marketing Deborah Topcik told WTOP. “Last year, we had about 6,000 people: families, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, dogs, everyone came out to National Harbor for a great day. … We hope that everyone in the DMV joins us here at National Harbor. It’s right off of (interstates) 495 and 95, so easy access. … It’s a great day, lots of fun and a little sweet, you know, you get some candy!”

Dress the kiddies up and go trick-or-treating around National Harbor from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

“We have over 30 restaurants, hotels and retailers that will be handing out candy,” Topcik said. “We’ll give you a map and you can also see it online; closer to the event we’ll post a map online so you can see which restaurants and stores are giving away candy. There will be a line outside; hold out your (plastic) pumpkin, say your favorite trick-or-treating line and get some candy. (Parents), make a mental note of where you want to shop or dine afterwards.”

While you’re doing that, catch a spooky flick with “Movies on the Potomac” from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Every year for the last nine years, we’ve shown ‘Hocus Pocus,’ that is our tradition,'” Topcik said. “We thought about showing ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ but we wanted to stay with the tradition, so we have the original ‘Hocus Pocus’ playing on the screen. People that saw it the original time when it came out, they’re the ones having kids, so parents are being able to experience one of their favorite Halloween movies with their children.”

Immediately after the movie, enjoy a pumpkin-carving contest on the Plaza Stage at 2:30 p.m.

“These are some of our chefs,” Topcik said. “Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, one of their chefs is going to be carving pumpkins; Josue Martinez from Corinto Gallery, he’s an artist so he’s going to be carving pumpkins, so we have different people from different aspects of our retail and restaurants who will be carving pumpkins, then the audiences gets to decide which one is the best. I think last year’s winning one was a Minion.”

After that, they clear the Plaza Stage for the adorable “Pet Pawrade” at 2:45 p.m.

“Last year, we had so many people for the ‘Pet Pawrade’ that we had to divide it into different categories — and you do need to preregister on our website,” Topcik said. “We have four different categories based on the size of your pet. … They parade around and paw around our stage, and we vote on the best costume in each category. We’ll have prizes for all of the winning dogs, cats, birds or whatever has the best costume.”

Finish off your day with “Halloween Spins” on The Capital Wheel, which is open until 5 p.m.

“Stay a little later and make sure you take a ride on The Capital Wheel,” Topcik said. “All kids in their costume are going to get on free with a paid adult, so it’s just another fun, elevated way to see National Harbor. You’re 180 feet above the Potomac River, so it’s fun. … When I’m in there I usually have a little dance party, so there’s plenty of room, they’ve got music going, so especially with your little kids, you definitely want to have a dance party.”

Find more information on the National Harbor website.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Harbor Halloween' at National Harbor (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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