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17th Street Halloween High Heel Race Fun Festivities 2017

To view images full size, left click on each

By Phil Carney*

 On the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands gathered along 17th Street NW between R and P Streets NW for our 31st Dupont Circle neighborhood’s most fun and silliest annual event. The race is always starts at exactly 9 pm. Revelers began gathering  NOV - HighHeelRace2017-pic2 an hour or so earlier in anticipation of watching the participants in drag or Halloween costumes parading up and down 17th Street to cheers, smiles, and flashing cell phones.

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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 decided to parade with Scoop in costume. This year was 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 of not thousands of cell phone cameras flashing away. I heard the race winner this year finished in 41 seconds; most took much longer.

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The purpose of the evening is the race, but the most fun is the before-watching the drag queens and folks in inventive and original costumes parading and then after-a chance for selfies with the all the folks who put a lot of time and effort into their drag outfits or costumes.

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High Heel Race History

Decades ago, drunken drag queens were bar hopping. Leaving Annie’s Paramount they decided to race in high heels to the next bar down the street, JRs. 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. Because the overcrowding got so bad, 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 safer evening for the many thousands who gather for our traditional fun each year.

Over the years, the high heel race has been sponsored by Whitman-Walker Health, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets and JRs. This year the high heel race was sponsored by Mayor Bowser (although she, along with Ward 2 Councilmember Evans, missed the event because they were in France unsuccessfully lobbying for DC to be the site of the next Gay Games).

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[Editor’s Note: For a look at 79 more fabulous photos, click here to check out a fun Flickr page.]

*Phil Carney 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.

Copyright © 2017 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”).