What You Need To Know About The Upcoming Montrose Crawl (And Then Some)

By | October 6, 2014
Attendees from last year’s crawl. Credit: The Montrose Crawl

The Montrose Crawl is one of Houston’s largest Halloween parties. What’s meant to be “adult trick-or-treating,” according to Jason Ginsburg, one of the crawl’s founders, is also a lot of work for a dedicated group of people that have watched it grow over the last eight years. As it has grown, so has its lore. For regular attendees and newcomers alike, here are some fun facts about The Montrose Crawl, its history as well as some tips on making it the best crawl it can be.

It all started in New York City
“The genesis of the Montrose Crawl comes from the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, Manhattan,” says Ginsburg. “I lived in New York for a while. My friends and I always used to march in that parade.”

Ginsburg and his wife visited New York on their honeymoon, attending the storied Halloween parade in the Village and wanted to find something similar after returning home to Houston. Finding nothing in their home neighborhood of Montrose (which they felt had a similar vibe to the Village), the couple asked the owners of Catbirds and Poison Girl about “getting some people together to do a bar crawl on Halloween and having some drink specials to go along with it.” Their response: “Go wild!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

More creative costumes. Credit: The Montrose Crawl
More creative costumes. Credit: The Montrose Crawl

It’s not just tricks and treats
Though the crawl began as a fun bar crawl between friends, Ginsburg and other founders realized its growing popularity also meant growing liabilities.

“The whole thing turned out to be a lot of work for all of us involved,” he says. “The scariest thing about it was that we had attendees (who we call ‘crawlers’) walking across Westheimer near Boondocks at that blind curve.”

Ginsburg, who is also a lawyer, realized the dangers and liabilities involved and decided to put security measures in place to protect crawlers in the following years. They offset security costs with sponsorships, which took plenty of manpower to secure.

“We thought, if we’re going to have to work so hard at this, let’s at least have it benefit a neighborhood charity,” he says.

The Montrose Crawl has since gone on to become a Texas non-profit corporation and participating bars donate a portion of the evening’s drink sales to Houston Area Women’s Center. Ginsburg estimates the event has raised over $25,000 collectively and is hoping for at least another $5,000 in donations from this year alone.

What (or who) is a grand crawler?
Since the crawl was inspired by a parade, a “grand crawler” is honored each year by the event. This year’s grand crawler is none other than chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly. Grand crawler responsibilities include crowning a costume champion at the very end of the evening.

The inaugural grand crawler was Sue Lovell, former Houston City Council member, and someone whom Ginsburg credits with helping greatly grow the legitimacy and community profile of the Montrose Crawl.

The costume-contest-winning team from 2013. Credit: The Montrose Crawl
The costume-contest-winning team from 2013. Credit: The Montrose Crawl

How to crawl
In what can only be described as a loose structure, the crawl is very open-ended and easy to navigate at any point in the evening. The only suggestions are that crawlers join in the spirit of the holiday and sport a costume. The event is on Halloween itself, October 31.

This year the schedule is as follows:
7-9 p.m. is the general time to hit up Brasil, Poison Girl and Pistolero’s with a best costume awards at 8 p.m. (at all three, simultaneously — applies to all preliminary costume contests)

8-10 p.m. is the window for Boondocks, Stone’s Throw and Etro Lounge with costume contests at each venue at 9 p.m.

9-11 p.m. find your way into Catbirds, Royal Oak or soon-to-open Doc’s Motorworks with costume awards commencing at 10 p.m.

10 p.m. – Midnight will be primetime for stops at Slick Willie’s, Hay Merchant and El Real Tex-Mex with costume awards at 11 p.m.

Midnight is the grand finale at Slick Willie’s where all 12 costume winners from each hour and each venue will be judged by the grand crawler and one will eventually take home the grand prize: Dinner for six at El Real Tex-Mex complete with tequila pairings.

Getting there (and back) safely
“Also being a neighborhood president [in Montrose], I’m sensitive to residential issues, especially parking,” says Ginsburg. “And vice versa in regards to our crawlers with all the ‘no parking’ signs around. We’re really hoping that Uber can facilitate our growth and provide people with an easy way to go to and from the crawl.”

In addition to focusing plenty of drivers in the Montrose area Halloween night, Uber is also partnering with the crawl to offer free rides to patrons that have yet to try the driving service.

By the numbers
5,000 The amount of dollars The Montrose Crawl hopes to raise for the Houston Area Women’s Center in one evening.

12 Participating Montrose bars and restaurants: Brasil (the starting point), Poison Girl, Pistolero’s, Boondocks, Stone’s Throw, Etro Lounge, Catbirds, Royal Oak Bar & Grill, Doc’s Motorworks, Slick Willie’s, El Real Tex-Mex and Hay Merchant. Also The hour of the evening when a costume champion will be crowned and the number of finalists that will be judged in the final event.

8 Number of years the crawl has been in existence.

7 Official sponsors to help with publicity, costs and general merriment: Free Press Houston, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Jim Beam, Izkali Tequila, Party Boy, Nightmare on the Bayou and Red Bull.

2 Food trucks on hand to serve up plenty of food to Halloween revelers: Koagie Hots and The Golden Grill.

2/3 In miles, the stretch of Westheimer the Montrose Crawl encompasses for the night.

3 responses to “What You Need To Know About The Upcoming Montrose Crawl (And Then Some)”

  1. Elizabeth McDonald

    Does it take place on Halloween night? How great that October 31 is on a Friday this year!

    • Amber Ambrose

      Hi Elizabeth, it does take place on October 31. I added a sentence to include that (and thanks for reading!).

  2. […] you’ve never been, here’s how it works: You show up in costume. Meet up at Poison Girl around 7 p.m. and crawl your way down Westheimer. […]

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District provided services such as safety patrols by off-duty HPD officers, graffiti abatement, trash pick-up, maintenance of esplanades, among other services outlined in the Districts’ Assessment Plan, that are supplemental to services provided by the City of Houston, had been reduced in Mid-November and ceased completely as of December 11. The District had to cease the services due to unpaid assessments from some of the commercial property owners within the District. Please direct questions regarding the cessation of services to Executive Director, Ben Brewer at BBrewer@MontroseDistrict.org. We are committed to helping our neighborhood remain the safe, vibrant and attractive place to live and do business and would like to hear from you on how we can continue to work together in this effort.