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High Heel Race & Fun Festivities 2014

Accompanying images can be viewed in theNovember 2014 issue PDF

By Phil Carney*

Unlike previous years’ 17th Street pre-Halloween celebrations, no mayor showed (lame duck), but one mayoral candidate was the race marshal and another worked the crowd.

For those who don’t know, almost 30 years ago some drag queens were doing a bar crawl. They left one bar in an inebriated condition and decided to race in their high heels to the next bar. Someone thought it would be fun to do it again for Halloween, and thus was born our great neighborhood event.

Over the years I’ve had mixed emotions about the race event because of assorted crowd control and safety issues. As it evolved from a neighborhood event to one attracting onlookers from the entire metro area, it bothered me that it felt like suburban straights were coming to stare at the weird Dupont Circle folks. Larger crowds required police involvement despite some cops who seemed not to want to have anything to do with the event.

The negative vibe has gradually improved over the years. Especially this year I felt that spectators were simply here to join in the fun and even cops were having as much fun as the spectators. Never would have thought that such a silly event would be symbolic of positive cultural changes.

*The writer is a long-time 17th Street resident and activist, a former Dupont Circle ANC commissioner, and a recognized photographer and chronicler of the neighborhood’s life and history.