Monster Bash

Dave Schwab

Wed October 5, 2016 3:39pm

Over the past 16 years, Monster Bash, San Diego’s annual sinful, blockbuster downtown Halloween extravaganza, has become the not-to-miss event of the year,
The annual Dos Equis Monster Bash returns to the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village Saturday, Oct. 29 from 6 p.m. to midnight with its trademark stilt walkers, go-go girls and live music on several stages.
The frighfest culminates at 11 p.m. with the infamous Monster Bash Costume Contest, where finalists take to the stage to win the applause of the crowd vying for an insane $5,000 cash prize.
Spanning eight city blocks, Monster Bash is known for its five fiendishly otherworldly, carefully crafted themed stages. This year›s wicked realms include a landscape with disturbingly black creatures lurking in the shadows. Also featured this year will be streetwalking “discarded” dolls, and a nod to Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday where people pray for and remember the deceased supporting their spiritual journey.
Staged annually by The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation and SoCo Production Inc, and marketed by McFarlane Promotions, Inc., Monster Bash draws thousands of revelers to San Diego›s devilishly conceived and executed over-the-top Halloween blow-out party.
What can ghouls and gals expect from this year›s monster mania? 
“This year we›re excited about working with prop professionals to articulate our (themed) sets making them more three-dimensional,” said Laurel McFarlane, noting one eerie set involves a doll house with creepy faces in a 10-foot-high structure accommodating a DJ.
McFarlane said this year›s Halloween celebration will introduce a Game of Thrones-inspired set and more.
“Our Wicked Whitlelands will be an all-white area, and we will also have big, spooky crows and girls with no faces,” she said. “Our Scary Tales set is a take on the darker side of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This year we›re also doing a ‹90s Horror House, a fun spoof with Pamela Anderson and sharks attacking.”
A highlight each year of the Halloween-inspired madness is what Background Productions, a full-service entertainment company, brings to the show.
“Each year Monster Bash calls for new Custom Stilt Characters, it ends up pushing us all to think outside the box and create custom larger-than-life stilt characters to entertain and scare attendees,” said Leila Penix, Background›s co-owner, producer and performer. “This year is no different. We have a creepy crew of characters in the works!”
 Penix said building the stilt characters from the ground up «is why we keep doing events like this. We love the process, from imagination to budgets, costume creation to expressing the character through the fabric and masks. And finally, dealing with the adrenaline of the unknowns that always happen at large-scale events, to feeling the rush when a guest runs in fear from our creepy characters — we thrive on it.”  
McFarlane said Monster Bashes are year-round planning efforts whose biggest challenge to put on is “working with the community” to ensure things go smoothly, as well as finding new creative ways to entertain guests and keep them returning.
“You just can›t do the same footprint every year,” she said. “You›ve got to change it, make sure it works for everyone.”
McFarlane said proceeds from Monster Bash go to support both The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation and SoCo Production Inc.
“Over the last 10 years or so, we›ve given more than $175,000 out to those two organizations,” she said.
Why is Monster Bash McFarlane›s personal favorite to produce and promote?
“I just love to be creative,” she said adding, “With Halloween, there are no boundaries. St. Patrick›s Day is green, and with Mardi Gras you have beads. But with Halloween, you can dream up what you want.”
For tickets and information, visit or call 619-233-5008.