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Friday October 27, 2000

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Halloween party hits downtown

By Aaron Cowman

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nightmare of Congress Street returns for fourth year

Parties are a standard Halloween tradition prior to the night of ghouls and

ghosts, and this year's fourth annual Nightmare on Congress Street promises to be one of the biggest.

"I see Halloween as whoever has the biggest and best party wins," said Jeb

Schoonover, co-owner of the Rialto Theatre and founder of the event.

The festivities begin tomorrow night at 8 with activities going on in the

Rialto, 318 E. Congress St., and in Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.,

as well as a party on the street in front of the two venues.

The music looks to be the highlight of the event with a variety of bands

from across the nation scheduled to perform.

"Because of the timing, we have a lot of national bands coming through,"

Schoonover said.

Schoonover said the bill includes the jam band The Big Wu, from Minnesota, the rock and honky-tonk Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash from California and Molten Leather, a Spinal Tap-esque heavy metal spoof.

Also on the program is the new-grass band The Larry Keel Experience from North Carolina, the rockabilly band the Deviants and the local alternative group Tongue Dried Sun.

"The event is programmed to have a wide variety of music," Schoonover said.

Events at the Rialto generally do not have an age limit, but since the event

is in conjunction with Hotel Congress, the celebration is strictly 21 and over.

"It's too difficult to check IDs for an event like this," Schoonover said.

"Especially with many people in costumes."

The adult audience should find plenty to do with the combination of music and contests. Prizes of money and gift certificates will be awarded to the participants with the most engaging costumes.

"Every year there are some really creative costumes," Schoonover said.

Costumes, however, are not required. It is an event for people to come and

have fun, Schoonover said.

"People can feel or do whatever they want on this night," he said.

The event began four years ago as part of the Rialto Renovation Project,

and originated as a recreation of the "Neewollah Street Dance" that ran back in the 1920s.

Nightmare on Congress Street drew more than a thousand people its inaugural year, and this year's attendance should be about three times that, Schoonover said.

Tickets are $10 in advance at the Zia Record Exchange stores on 3370 E. Speedway Blvd. and 3655 N. Oracle Road, and are good for all of the festivities.

Schoonover said that he hopes this year's celebration goes well and that

it helps draw more people to the area.

"It's been very attractive," he said. "It's a way for people to come see