An wonderfully warm look at a comic-book tradition…

From the first time I read Batman #237, I was entranced by the Rutland Halloween Parade in Vermont. I didn’t even realize it was a real thing until much later (I didn’t read the letters when I was five); I just remember gawking at this magnificent tryptych by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano and trying to name all the superheroes and wishing I could go to such an amazing event. Five decades later, and I still haven’t made it, but I’ve long wanted to do a feature on it here at 13th Dimension, beyond our annual tribute to Batman #237, the greatest Halloween comic book ever.

Batman #237

Well, just this week, I happened upon a post in the Batmania by Biljo White Facebook group, by administrator Kirk Hastings. It pretty much said everything I’d want to say, and more. With Kirk’s permission, we’re adapting it here as a special guest column. You can also check out the annual INSIDE LOOK at Batman #237, featuring insightful and revealing comments by the late Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Click here for that.

Now, here’s Kirk.


I knew Tom Fagan really well. But I never met him in person!

Despite that fact, he is the reason I will be in Rutland’s annual Halloween Parade this year.

Permit me to explain: I grew up in a little seashore resort town called Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, located near the southern tip of the state, in the 1960s. And from a very early age I was a great fan of Batman comics. The very first time I ever heard of Tom Fagan was from the letters page in Issue #148 of the Batman comic, which came out in April of 1962 (I was 9 years old at the time).

Tom Fagan

Tom was a big Batman fan too, and in his letter he described this wonderful Halloween Parade that had been going on in Rutland, Vermont, since 1959, and how he had ended up getting involved with it beginning in 1960, dressed in a homemade Batman costume. He described how he had created a small float for the parade, complete with a huge painted backdrop of Batman that he did himself. His 5-year-old daughter Deana (named after James Dean) stood on the float dressed in a Bat-Mite outfit.

Fagan as Batman, with a happy Hela

The next time I encountered Tom was in Detective Comics #327 (publication date May 1964), where he once again expounded on the Rutland Parade.

Then, in the January 1965 issue of a fan-produced zine called Batmania (produced by one Biljo White of Columbus, Missouri), there was an extensive article called “The Big Parade” written by Tom (who later became the associate editor of the magazine, until it ended its run with Issue #17 in 1968). This article really gave a great history of the parade up to that point, and how popular it had gotten.

From Kirk’s A History of the Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade

As the 1960s progressed, the event became one of the biggest Halloween parades in the country, and Tom was able to cajole a number of writers, artists and editors who worked for DC Comics in New York City to come up to Rutland and participate, dressed as their favorite superheroes. This led to some pretty amazing floats in the coming years, featuring various superhero characters of all sizes, shapes, and costumes. (One year, a guy showed up painted completely green as the Incredible Hulk, wearing nothing but a torn pair of purple pants in 30-degree weather!)

At the time, besides working as a reporter for the Rutland Herald, Tom was living in and taking care of a historic old mansion in Rutland called the Clement House, as a favor to a friend. One year Tom decided to invite all of the costume-clad superheroes in the parade back to the mansion for a Halloween party, and it ended up lasting until the next morning. Soon these Halloween parties became quite infamous, and ended up becoming a yearly tradition (continuing well into the 1970s and getting bigger every year).

Tom often was the grand marshal of the Halloween Parade during those years too, always dressed in his custom-made Batman costume. (He often sidelined as a parade judge as well, helping to choose who had the best costume, the best float, etc.)

From Kirk’s A History of the Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade

The Rutland parade became so famous that it was even eventually featured in a number of DC and Marvel comic books in the 1970s — including Batman #237, which came out five days before Halloween in 1971. PEGTV, the local community-access TV station, broadcasts the parade live every year, and offers copies of it for sale afterward.

Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, Tom’s health began to fail. He finally passed away at age 77 on October 21, 2008—sadly, right before that year’s Halloween parade. (The following year, 2009, marked the 50th Anniversary of the parade.) He now rests peacefully in a shaded plot in Evergreen Cemetery, just outside the center of town.


In 2017 the city of Rutland decided to sponsor a Halloween Parade Museum in the old Courcelle Building, at 16 North Street Extension. The museum featured many of the large painted plywood comic book art panels that had been used on various floats throughout the years, as well as copies of the various comic books that had featured the parade in the 1970s. Unfortunately, it had to be dismantled when the Rutland recreation deptartment moved to its new headquarters at 134 Community Drive. The painted comic book panels are now back in storage; whether the city will ever be able to find a new space to re-assemble the museum again is, at this point, an open question.

In July 2018 I decided to personally revive the Batmania fanzine. I produced nine issues in all, until April of 2022 — including a Special Rutland Halloween Parade Issue in October 2018 (#25). Later that same year I decided that I wanted to produce a special full-color booklet documenting the complete history of the Rutland Parade, from its humble beginnings in 1959 up to the present.

Even though there had been a number of articles about the parade over the years in the Rutland Herald (as well as various other newspapers and magazines across the country), I felt it was important that someone put the complete history of the parade together in one source, and distribute copies of it around to various Rutland organizations so that the beginnings and history of the parade (and the part Tom played in shaping it) would not be forgotten by future generations.

Kirk Hastings

I ended up producing a 128-page book using much of the material that I had collected over the years relating to the parade — A History of the Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade — and I distributed self-printed copies of it to seven different organizations around Rutland: the Antique Mansion Bed and Breakfast (the old Clement House), the Rutland Herald, the Rutland Historical Society, the main branch of the Rutland Library, the Rutland Chamber of Commerce, PEGTV, and April Cioffi (of the Rutland Recreation & Parks Department, the organizer of the parade for many years).

For a long time I harbored two personal dreams: one, to personally visit Rutland at Halloween and see the parade in person. That finally happened in 2018. I even got to stay two nights at the Clement House during my visit (which is now a bed-and-breakfast)! Unfortunately, personal circumstances prevented me and my wife from going back to see the parade again in 2019, and in 2020 it was canceled because of COVID-19. We got back to Rutland in 2021, but the parade was canceled again that year because of bad weather. In 2022 circumstances once again prevented my wife and me from getting up to Rutland.

But now, this year, we are coming to Rutland again. And while there I plan to fulfill my second longtime dream—to finally be IN the parade, dressed as a superhero! The parade is Saturday and my costume will be the Green Hornet from the 1966 TV series starring Van Williams.

I think Tom would be proud.


— BATMAN #237: O’Neil & Adams on the Greatest Halloween Comic Ever. Click here.

— Neal Adams’ BATMAN #237 Color Guide Is Even Spookier Than the Final Cover. Click here.

Kirk Hastings is the admin of the Batmania by Biljo White Facebook page, which is filled with all things retro Batman. Click here to join. A History of the Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade can be viewed at the Internet Archive.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Thanks for the wondeful resources connect to the legendary Smell the Dream opps Haloween Rutland Parade. I have a relative not too far away in NH who might have gone knowing about it sooner. But it is the anniversery today. The Booklet is mentioned can be downloaded.

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  2. Ah, how I love those Rutland Halloween comics! I read a bunch of them a couple of years ago for my Halloween reading. Unfortunately I’ll never get there myself but I’m glad someone else could fulfill his dream.

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  3. Oh, how I love those Rutland Halloween comics! A couple of years ago I read a bunch of them for my Halloween reading. Unfortunately I’ll never get to go there but I’m glad someone could fulfill his dream.

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  4. I lived next door to Tom Fagan, his wife and their daughter when I was a child. I lived next door to them in Rutland Vermont for 12 years. He used to make all of the kids in the neighborhood Black Bats with a pin on them that we would all wear. He always dressed in a black outfit of some kind. Being a kid at the time did not realize how long the parade would go on. I think the first year of the parade I was 3. I remember going many times and brought my own children as well. I still live in the area. I remember him having an unbelievable amount of Batman memorabilia. He was a nice man to all of us kids and we were a neighborhood with lots of kids.

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