If you attended a Halloween mixer in recent days, the kind of old-fashioned get-together that includes that difficult bite-a-pear-tied-to-a-string game as well as bobbing for apples, you likely participated in a guessing game.
You remember from grade school, of course, that one game that asks how many pumpkin seeds are in a bowl or pieces of candy in a jar or autumn leaves in a wheelbarrow.
Did you guess 500,000, give or take? Wait, we crossed our streams there, because that's the number of people who annually join the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, one of the solar system's best-attended holiday shindigs (and maybe even the Milky Way's, surely).
A half million revelers make for Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega Boulevard and Doheny Drive each and every year to play a festive part in the "World's Largest Halloween Street Party," a nearly 40-year-old party that sees a number of extravagant and creative costumes that clearly took weeks, and even months, to build.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Some costume themes are a team thing, involving a half dozen (or more) partiers; many amazing outfits are stand-alones, but they do they ever stand out, thanks to ginormous wings or crowns or platforms or some other charming combination of various eye-popping accessories.
And it is all free to see, free to stroll, free to soak it all in, from 6 to 11 o'clock on Halloween night.
The second question, after "what should I be?," is always this: "How do I get there?"
You might know exactly how to reach Santa Monica Boulevard and Doheny. You might have driven there hundreds of times over the years, in fact, but getting there, with hundreds of thousands of people also trying to get there at nearly the same time, is as big a consideration as whether you'll dress as the Hollywood Sign or the Pacific Wheel (complete with lights).
Even Visit West Hollywood, the official visitor site for the city, admits "traffic is a bit of a nightmare." Whatever method of transport you choose, know and accept in your heart that you won't arrive right at the parade's closest curb.
In other words? Comfy sneakers will be your friend, as well as embracing the idea you'll have to cover a few blocks, at least, to reach the hoopla.
The Visit West Hollywood page has a few other important recommendations, like making it a night for the grown-ups only (and definitely leaving the furry, leash-cute family members at home). First-timers, and even those who make it a yearly must-do, should peruse all of the helpful tips from the people who are right there and in the know.
Many get-ups are "risqué," says Visit Hollywood, and as for imbibing adult beverages out on the route? Nope, not happening, though many bars are located within walking distance.
We all live in a region known for razzmatazz and spectacle, both, and this colossal, convivial, and very, very popular festival is one of the prime examples of our dedication to exuberant costuming, socializing, and celebrating.
You don't even need to be right about how many candies are in a jar or pumpkin seeds in a bowl or leaves in a wheelbarrow at your next get-together; just knowing that 500,000 people regularly seek to take part in the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval speaks to its robust, everyone-revel superpowers.