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High Heel Race and Fun Festivities 2018

Accompanying images can be viewed starting on page 1 of the November 2018 issue pdf

By Phil Carney*

On the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands again gathered in along 17th Street between R and P Streets, NW for our 32nd High Heel Race. This is our Dupont Circle neighborhood’s most fun and silliest annual event. The race always starts at exactly 9 pm. Revelers began gathering hours earlier to watch participants in drag or Halloween costumes parading up and down the street to cheers, smiles, and flashing cell phones.

For years I didn’t parade with Scoop the Dog since he wasn’t a Halloween costume. Scoop is like Smokey the Bear — a costume with a message. Scoop’s message is “Scoop Your Pet’s Poop.” A few years ago I decided to parade with Scoop in a simple tasteful witch’s black and orange pointy hat. After Scoop paraded and went home, I put on a rainbow-colored wig, grabbed my camera and a ladder and went back out onto 17th Street to take photos of the race (several of which my editor has posted here) — along with hundreds, if not thousands, of cell phone cameras flashing away. The winner finished in less than a minute. Other racers crossed the finish line over the next five minutes.

The purpose of the evening may be the race, but the most fun is the pre-race scene watching the drag queens and folks in fabulous, inventive and original costumes parading up and down the street. Then after the race everyone, as always, had a chance for selfies with all the talented participants who put a lot of time and effort into their drag outfits or costumes.

Thanks go to MPD, sponsors and the many volunteers who make our annual fun event possible. I thanked the Chief of Police and our District Commander for attending and for their officers’ gentle presence in managing the crowds.

High Heel Race History

Decades ago, drunken drag queens were bar hopping. Leaving Annie’s Paramount Steak House they decided to race in high heels to the next bar down the street, JR’s. That spontaneous, less than one-block race sparked the idea of a formal race in high heels.

From year to year, the race went from a small crowd to much larger crowds to sardine-packed crowds. The overcrowding got so bad that the race was moved from Halloween night to the Tuesday before. Nowadays, thanks to the active involvement of MPD and many more volunteers the race has become better organized and a safe fun evening for the many thousands who gather on our little neighborhood commercial/residential street for Halloween fun each year.

Over the years, the high heel race had been sponsored by Whitman-Walker Health, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets and JR’s. It was JR’s then General Manager Dave Perruzza who undertook the task of pulling everything together. (He recently opened and operates Pitchers, Adams Morgan’s new gay sports bar.). Thanks to Perruzza’s foresight and initiative, the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs has now joined as a sponsor and also providing substantial support in the form of services and other assistance.

*Phil Carney is a long-time 17th Street resident and community activist, a retired Dupont Circle ANC commissioner, and a recognized photographer and chronicler of the neighborhood’s life and history. This year he was an AARP Andrus Award for Community Service Nominee.

Copyright © 2018 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Phil Carney. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited, except as provided by 17 U.S.C. §§107 & 108 (“fair use”).