Ohio University students Jackson Davis and Isobel Shepherd volunteer at the Honey for the Heart workshop.

Honey For the Heart, with a Purpose

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ATHENS, Ohio – Honey for the Heart, a group that brings the community together through creating puppets for the Halloween parade, is changing the narrative surrounding Halloween in Uptown Athens.

The effort was conceived in the 1970s when Athens resident Patty Mitchell became discouraged over the negative perception the city was seeing from the annual Halloween block party. She said she wanted to create something that would bring the City of Athens and Ohio University together in a positive way.

“In the ’70s Halloween was an outlawed event; we lined the sidewalks and the first few people to step off the sidewalks were arrested,” Honey for the Heart artist Tina Kelsey said.

Head of one of the signature Honey for the Heart puppets.

Mitchell made a couple of puppets in her garage and marched with them through the streets – she said the people loved it. With that positive response and people showing interest in joining her, she reached out to community and university to expand the movement.

It became apparent this was something the university and community agreed on.

Honey for the Heart still brings together local artists and volunteers to create grand puppets for the parade, and their support has continued to grow. The materials used to create the puppets are donated by local businesses and community members.

Ohio University students volunteering their time to help artists make the puppets for the parade.

Anyone can volunteer to help make the puppets at the Honey for the Heart workshop. The workshops run for two weeks leading up to the parade, however Honey for the Heart organizers work year-round at Passion Works studio.

“This really is the best of what goes on in Athens,” Kelsey said. “We have art, we have music, we have collaboration, we have people of all abilities coming in and working alongside everybody else. It really is a magical, magical event.”