Costa Mesa Halloween Hearse Procession Oct.24, 2010

Costa Mesa, CA--Southern California hearse owners see the funeral car as a beautifully designed, highly collectible automobile. One of their favorite times of year to show off these immaculately restored and well-maintained vehicles is Halloween season, when interest in the odd and unusual is at its height.  Phantom Coaches Hearse Club members participate in the  Annual Halloween Hearse Show and Procession in Costa Mesa, held each year as part of the Orange County Market Place celebrations.

Past guests for the parade have included Dr. Demento riding in the lead car as Grand Marshal.  A dragster ambulance, blue and purple hearses, a coffin go kart and hearse shaped pumpkin have all appeared in the event, and each year really raises the bar on fun people can have with Halloween and cars.

Held in conjunction with the Annual Trick or Treat Festival at the Orange County Market Place in Costa Mesa, the event helps change perceptions about the hearse.  Many see a hearse on the street and conjure up feelings of grief, loss and funerals.  Hearse clubs  prefer to look at a ride in a hearse as a series of enjoyable journeys. Few dwell on thoughts that they may one day take their last ride in their favorite collector car, though some have gone as far as to specify which hearse they want to take their last ride in!

About the Hearse:

Hearses are desirable vintage cars because of how well they’re built and how they stand up over time.

Cadillac and Packard made most hearse chassis in the ’50 and ‘60s. 1959 Cadillac hearses saw the sweeping, dramatic fins and other distinctive features that make that year’s Cadillac line so popular today.

When a hearse owner takes their automobile out for a spin, it's guaranteed to generate attention. The procession of nearly 50 hearses on this annual Halloween procession leaves the parking lot at the fairgrounds promptly at 10 a.m. escorted by Costa Mesa Police Department, and head south on Newport Blvd., right on Victoria St., right on Harbor Blvd., right on Baker, right on Fairview Rd., left on Arlington and returning to the swap meet interior for an all day exhibition and popular vote judging.

Other facts about the participants and their hearses:

* There are 15 female hearse owner/co-owners in the group
* Most unusual entry is a coffin go-kart built by Jerry Frazier of Westminster
* The oldest model is a 1955 Cadillac Meteor Landau End loader
* The latest model is a 1995 Cadillac Eagle Landau hearse
* The 1971 Cadillac MM Landau Endloader with black crinkle top has a split couch casket with a motorized skeleton that sits up and down.
* The 1975 Cadillac Miller-Meteor has arched cathedral style rear windows and a Gothic roof rack, skull headrests and lantern headlight covers.

In addition to the hearse event, the 12th Annual Trick or Treat Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes free daytime trick or treating from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  A complete schedule is available at

All festivities are included in swap meet admission, which is $2 or free for kids 12 and under.

Along with the Festival is the regular base of Market Place vendors which includes nearly 1,000 merchants offering a variety of products and services. fresh produce, gourmet foods to go, artisans and crafters, manufactured homes, kid’s play area, inflatable attractions, hair salon, food concessions and more. In its 40th year the Orange County Market Place is held every weekend (except during the Orange County Fair) at the O.C. Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information may be obtained by visiting the website or calling 949-723-6660.