Anoka, MN Parade Accident, Oct 1961


Anoka, Minn. (UPI) -- A gay Halloween parade of costumed school children turned into a nightmare of horror late Tuesday when a runaway car with a dead man at the wheel roared through the rear of the marchers and plowed into spectators.
Children, any of them masked and wearing spook and goblin costumes, were tossed into the air. Older adults and youths were knocked down "like a bunch of tenpins."
Two elderly women were killed. Twenty-three others, including 18 children, were injured.
Ironically, a town fire engine scheduled to follow the marchers and protect them from traffice was called out on a run as the parade started.
Police identified the dead as OTTO ERICKSON, 70, driver of the 13-year-old car which caused the tragedy; MRS. HARRY LAIRD, 60, Coon Rapids, Minn., and MRS. GEORGIA DOWDELL, 79, Anoka. ERICKSON was dead of an apparent heart attack seconds before the accident.
Two children and an adult were in critical condition.
The accident was all the more tragic in that the annual pagent in this self-proclaimed "Halloween capital of the world" was set up in 1920 to turn youngsters away from the usual holiday pranks and give them a safe, enjoyable Halloween.
The 43rd annual pagent started as usual Tuesday with 5,000 children dressed in weird costumes partying gaily along main street in the Minneapolis suburb.
ERICKSON was behind the marchers in his ancient car. Suddenly he slumped over the steering wheel and his foot jammed on the accelerator.
The car roared through a red light, ran into youngsters marching at the rear of the parade, jumped a divider strip in the middle of Main Street, hit a parked car, shot across an intersection, sheared off a light pole and two parking meters and ran into more persons. It hit another auto and stopped in front of a mortuary. The car door swung open and ERICKSON'S body fell out into the street.

Daily Plainsman Huron South Dakota 1961-11-01