We are looking forward to the umpteenth annual Bill Soberanes Halloween Festival, held at The Plaza North and The Plaza South Shopping Centers. This event is a Petaluma favorite and regularly draws close to one thousand children and their families to trick or treat at The Plaza shops on the Saturday before Halloween.
But who is Bill Soberanes? And why did we name the Halloween Festival after him?
Bill wore many hats: Founder of the World Wrist-Wrestling Championships (a statue in his honor stands at the corner of Washington Street and Petaluma Boulevard North), a newspaper columnist and photographer (Bill's column appeared in every issue of the (Petaluma) Argus Courier from June 2, 1954, until June 4, 2003, two days after his death).
Bill spearheaded the Ugly Dog Contest. Bill coined the word "peopleologist" and promptly became the world's leading peopleologist, accumulating at least 45,000 photos of himself with politicians, movie stars, rock stars and sports figures among others. He was a boxer and a Merchant Marine. He was deeply involved in the Whiskerino Contest in Petaluma.
Bill definitely earned the name "Mr. Petaluma".
Bill was also husband to wife Jane Soberanes and they were two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
When Ellen Moorehead, former marketing director of The Plaza South, decided to create the Halloween Festival, she didn't need to look any further than Bill Soberanes to find the perfect person to host the festival.
In addition to everything else that Bill did, he also presided over an annual seance where thirteen people (including yours truly the last couple of years) would grasp hands for 13 minutes at midnight on Halloween and try to raise the spirit of Harry Houdini. Although the spirit of Harry Houdini never appeared, those seances have inspired a movie - The Annual Harry Houdini Seances, which will be coming to Petaluma on November 3rd.
Bill and Jane came to every single Halloween Festival. He never missed a one of them. After he died, his wife Jane continued to come, and to this day, many of Bill's family members join us at the festival.
This year's Annual Bill Soberanes Halloween Festival is taking place on Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 11 am to 1 pm at The Plaza North and South Shopping Centers, N. McDowell and E. Washington, home of Kmart, CVS, Trader Joe's, Raley's, Ross and more.
Check out John Maher - aka "Petaluma Pete" - great video celebrating the life and times of Bill Soberanes. And here is a video of our 2010 Halloween Festival - expect more of the same fun on Saturday!