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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Mostly Cloudy and Breezy
The Daily
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Costumes contend for attention at Freakfest on State Street
Halloween in Madison gets back to the basics
A couple in costume as Shrek and Princess Fiona pose at the Halloween party on State Street.
Credit:Rachel Tatge

If you were downtown on Saturday night, you might have seen a human beer pong game. Or a shark walking down State Street with a half-eaten person in its mouth. Or maybe a jellyfish with elaborate, sparkly tentacles in front of the Capitol.

Students and residents alike gathered at Freakfest and at other Halloween parties around Madison last weekend to release their pent-up creativity. The outcome was everything we have come to expect from the suits working by day around the Square and engineering students who busy with numbers all day. While there was the usual drunken sloppiness and debauchery I have become accustomed to, this year's Freakfest had a different feel.

In a throwback to 1990s culture, revelers dressed up like GUTS competitors and Quail Man from the cartoon Doug. Nickelodeon too must have left a permanent impression on today's college students, because everywhere I looked, there was a cartoon or show character I had grown up with. And, I admit, it made me feel nostalgic. The cast from The Office made an appearance, too; the person playing Dwight Schrute was perfect and creepy, just like the show.

Group themes were popular, as were couples costumes. Most of the couples weren't that original, though. There was a morbid bride and groom, and some kind of Boy Scout (or camping) couple. They looked cute... and typical.

The group costumes were much better. I saw a group of people dressed up like the characters from Clue. My favorites were the marijuana-smoking, bongo-playing Jamaicans. Very realistic, except for the go-go dancer, complete with 'fro and sequined hot pants, who accompanied them. That must have been a late addition. There was, as always, a group of girls dressed as 1980s aerobic instructors. They even had shiny, lamé tights, the ones from American Apparel that are always on sale. I've always wondered who bought those.

This being Madison, there were political and social statements: One guy wore a burqa, another dressed up as Ann Coulter with blood dripping from her chin. Earlier in the evening I saw a couple walking down State Street carrying a cross. I thought it was an insensitive costume at first, but they were wearing sweaters and tennis shoes, so I am assuming they were trying to make a statement. A guy dressed as a bright yellow chicken picked up the end of the cross and helped them carry it for a while. The couple didn't seem grateful for the assistance.

Then there was a MySpace page providing running commentary on some of today's controversial celebrities. There were also numerous Facebook pages. Two of them were the profiles of the people who were wearing them. Shameful self-promotion. There were about 20 Kevin Federlines: many with babies, some with signs asking for divorce help. There was a prevalence of Brit and K-Fed throughout the night, in fact.

The stage Peace Park sponsored by Isthmus had over 50 competitors participate in the costume contest, which started around 11 p.m.. UW-Madison student and ASM member Jeff Wright and WIBA's Curtis Gross were the presenters, and there were five categories: Most humorous, scariest, most creative, best look-alike and best overall. The best overall prize went to a team dressed up as characters from Saw, while the award for best impersonation went to a pair of Orbitz girls, the scariest went to a bloody bride and groom, the funniest went to a neon pink character, and a group Tetris costume won most creative.

The revelry on State Street ended shortly after 1:30 a.m., when police started pushing the crowd to the exits. Everyone looked exhausted and many costumes were starting to fall apart.

In the end, Halloween in Madison went back to the basics.

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