When locals reclaim the town

It’s Halloween in Leadville this weekend, and if tradition holds true, the holiday won’t be celebrated lightly.
It’s one of the city’s most loved holidays, and, according to locals, the deadline for snow to arrive.

This year, the change has come early. Leaves have fallen and so have the temperatures in the Ark Valley’s highest city. Tourists have flown, leaving the Sawatch and Mosquito mountains to the thin crowd that calls Leadville home through winter.

This weekend, the weird and wacky will come out of hiding to take back their town. Here’s what’s planned:
On Friday night, the Historic Pastime Bar & Cafe leads the pack with the Nightmare on 2nd Street Halloween Bash from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. The second year running, it’s an all-night party with a costume contest, giveaways, drink specials and music by local favorite and karaoke queen DJ Girl Play. The Pastime is located at 120 W. Second St. under the red neon sign in Leadville’s old red-light district.

Leading the live music scene
Saturday night at The Scarlet is Groovespeak. Around since 2003 as the passion play of local musicians Carey Nall and Brian Woodward, Groovespeak is back with a 5-piece band including a horn section and piano. Groovespeak has been lying low, performing mostly acoustic sets until last year, when pianist Ryan Ruegg and saxophonist Mark Hanson of Miner Down joined the ranks and played alongside Nall at Campout for the Cause.

Now, with three albums worth of new material written by Nall and Woodward, the band is back on the field, rehearsing strenuously with sights set on studio time and touring. Nall, Ruegg and Hanson take the stage with Vilous Fox on percussion, George Finnell on bass, and Allie Moreau on horns. Characterized by Nall’s smooth vocals, a dynamic rhythm and a signature groove as the name implies, Groovespeak is a musical experience in the vein of J.J. Cale or Warren Zevon. They’re on The Scarlet stage starting at 10 p.m. at 326 Harrison Ave.

Also Saturday night, across the street at Wilde’s Green Hour, is Boulder folk-rock band Girlfriend Duties. A lively, clean sound with banjo and electric guitar, Girlfriend Duties stands on biting lyrics sung in harmonies from sisters Savanna and Jenny Wright. These girls are backed up by Nils Jensen and Patrick Smith. Catch them at Leadville’s speakeasy located at 313 Harrison Ave. on Saturday night at 7 p.m. and for Sunday morning brunch at 10 a.m.

And something free, fun and for the little ones is Saturday morning’s 17th Annual Pumpkin Patch at the Sixth Street Gym, 124 E. Sixth St. Carnival games, pie-throwing, face-painting, tricks and treats, a bake sale, lots of prizes, and arts and crafts make this an awesome Leadville Halloween tradition.

Braver kids can go to the independently run Stapleton Haunted Manor at 118 W. Seventh St. on Saturday night only from 6-9 p.m. This walk through two houses of horror and oddity is also free, but children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Visit Leadville this weekend for a weird scene, but take care if you’re commuting. Seek accommodations if drinking. Nothing is scarier than blue and red lights flashing in your rearview mirror.