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The 2012 Hawthorne Hotel Halloween Ball - A Spectacular "Solstice of Souls" in Salem!

It wasn't a dark and stormy night and the weather outside wasn't frightful even though Super Storm Sandy was making her way up the coast and due to arrive soon on the night of Saturday, October 27th when the Hawthorne Hotel hosted it's annual Halloween Ball.  For almost an entire year I had been looking forward to once again getting the chance to be a judge at what is undoubtedly the best Halloween party on the North Shore and the big night had finally arrived!

One of my fellow judges and friend from England, Claire aka The Doodologist, had flown all the way in from Great Britain to lend her best Simon Cowell impressions to the judging and it was with great anticipation that we arrived at the hotel shortly before the doors opened at 7:30. The first order of the evening was attending the pre-party pep rally for the staff which is held in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel and where everyone gets their marching orders for the evening.

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As you can see from the photo below that was taken by Patrick - the amazing photographer who really knows how to capture the essence of the Hawthorne Hotel Halloween Ball and whose photos can be found here and here along with others from the ball - it isn't all work and no play for those who make the party such a success.  As you can see, it takes quite a few folks to put on the hotel's premiere event and trust me, they do a great job doing so.  Kudos to them all!

In addition to working the party, each year as part of the Halloween Ball, the various departments of the hotel compete fiercely for the title of "Best Decorated Room" which comes along with a nice cash prize and year-long bragging rights.  As part of our duties, those of us who are judges get to pick the award-winning room so the first order of business was for Claire and I to set out and check out the different rooms located on three floors of the hotel. If you read my post on last year's ball, you might recall that The Tavern and their theme, "Dancing With the Grateful Dead" won the award so naturally they were hoping to win again this year but the competition was pretty stiff.

In the Grand Ballroom, the Wicker Man towered over the stage ...

The Library in the basement had been invaded by web-spinning spiders ...

On the second floor, the Essex Room had some pretty impressive druids worshiping at Stonehenge ... 

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While back on the first floor, something was cooking over in Sophia's ...

Gargoyles in the Tavern

and demonic gargoyles had crossed the River Styx to land at The Tavern.

Headless Bodies in Nathaniel's

But it was in Nathaniel's that things had lost their heads ... or their torsos ... or other assorted body parts and it was Nathaniel's that eventually ended up taking the prize for Best Decorated Room as chosen by two of the three teams of judges.  To give credit where credit is due, Claire and I quite liked the Druids in the Essex Room as did a lot of guests who chose to pose for their photo with the silent monks but the rest of the room felt quite ordinary and that's where they lost our vote.

By the time we finished making the rounds of the rooms, guests had started to make their way into the hotel and it was time to start checking out some of the awesome costumes from which we were going to have to nominate six for the Costume Competition - three for indidivual/couple and three for group.  I knew from past experience that it wasn't going to be easy and Claire found out quite quickly that I wasn't kidding! 

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The above photo of Amy Pond, Doctor Who, and a Tardis is actually my friends Karen and RJ who had won tickets to attend the Halloween Ball and were having a wonderful time when they came across one of the two DJs at the party who was dressed as their time-travel machine. How fortuitous and an excellent photo op!

While DJS provided music in the Library and Sophia's and photos were being taken in the lobby by Patrick and his assistants (several of which I downloaded and edited slightly from the online galleries - the photos, not the assistants!) ...

... folks in the Grand Ballroom were having a grand time dancing to the music of "Hush" a Beverly-based band that has been performing together since 1979 and really knows how to rock a party.

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Not only did the crowd love the band's mix of Disco, Rock, Motown, R&B, Alternative, Top 40, Rock, and Classic hits ...

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... when the band played "Werewolves of London" even a werewolf got into the act from a window overlooking the ballroom! 

Heck, I'll be honest with you, I'm not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination but even I found my feet moving as the band played one great tune after another. They are seriously one of the best parts of the party - in my own humble opinion of course!

At 10:00, the Costume Contest was slated to begin in the ballroom and Claire and I waited to see how our choices would fare along with those chosen by the other two teams of judges for the evening. Juli Lederhaus, General Manager of the Hawthorne Hotel, and her assistant Jessica came up to the stage and the contestants soon paraded across to the cheers of the crowd looking on.

Nominated in the category of Individual/Couple were:

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The Lion-headed Egyptian Goddess
Art Deco Medusa
Crash Test Barbie
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Killer Ivory and Dr. Trauma
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Autumn in Salem
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The Dead Desk Clerk
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The Angel and The Demon (I admit it, I totally loved her wings!)
Poseidon and His Mermaid
The Woodland Fairies

For Group (which could also be Couple but not Individual!) the nominees were:

Doctor Brown and his female companion whom I did not get a photo of and whose name I can't remember either (my sincerest apologies)
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Electric Chair and C.O.
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The Day of the Dead Ladies
Walking Dead, Season One
The Disney Movie That Never Was - Sky Captain and Princess Ephmera
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Walking Dead, Season Two
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The Wicked Witch Experiment
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Solstice of Soles

There should have been nine nominees in each category however, it appears that one Group didn't manage to make it to the stage for the judging as there were only eight which when you get right down to it, was more than enough as when we judges went out for deliberations with some of the Department Managers of the Hawthorne, we had quite the deuce of a time picking out the winners. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that not all of the winners were exactly how I would have liked to have seen the results come out but I certainly tried to go to bat for my favorites (as did Claire) and in our hearts, they were all winners regardless of who took home the cash prizes and the bragging rights.

So, who won you may ask? In the category of Individual/Couple, third place went to:

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Second place:
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Oh, and just in case you've got a really good eye, you might remember these guys from last year when they attended the ball as Barbie Cenobite and Pinhead of Hellraiser fame.  Well played, gentlemen, well played!
Barbie Cenobite and Pinhead of Hellraiser fame
And first place went to:

In the Group category, the three winners were:

Third Place:
Second Place:
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First Place:
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Doesn't our First Place winner look like a man who just got a last-minute reprieve phone call from the Governor?!?

Finally, the General Manager's Special Award went to a lovely couple from New Jersey who depicted Autumn in Salem perfectly - well, at least before Super Storm Sandy blew through the next day!

All in all, it was a fantastic ball once again and it didn't hurt one iota that this year's Swag Bag (which guests of the Hawthorne Hotel who are attending the ball receive in their rooms) was just as marvelous as last year's with all sorts of goodies including a Solstice of Souls t-shirt, ballcap, coffee mug, temporary tattoos, and other cool goodies!

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I would like to thank the Hawthorne for having me back as a judge again this year as in spite of the difficulty in picking out nominees for the Costume Contest due to the sheer number of great costumes that people spend a lot of time creating, it really is a fantastic time filled with good food (heck, I didn't even mention the food until now but it was great!), good music, and good people who sometimes (if you're lucky) become good friends!  I'm available again for next year should you require my experience and expertise (wink, wink!)

In conclusion let me ask you, dear readers, who would you have chosen as the Costume Contest winners?  There aren't many photos here as my camera decided it was not in a party mood but there are lots of great shots taken by Patrick and Thomas and several others in the Halloween Ball's Picasa Web Albums (links appear further above in the post) for you to look through and help you plan what you're going to next year's ball as.  Will I see you there?!?  I sure hope so! 

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