On Halloween, Jokers overrun Cordova High School

Library book giveaway draws 400 visitors

From left: Jimmy Reilly, Kevin Chung, Christian Adams, Autumn Deaton, Anika Witsoe, Kaleb Carrillo, Keegan Estes, Jessica Wray and William Deaton. (Oct. 31, 2019) Photo courtesy of Brian Allison
From left: Jimmy Reilly, Kevin Chung, Christian Adams, Autumn Deaton, Anika Witsoe, Kaleb Carrillo, Keegan Estes, Jessica Wray and William Deaton. (Oct. 31, 2019) Photo courtesy of Brian Allison

“I’m an agent of chaos,” Heath Ledger’s Joker declared in the 2008 film “The Dark Knight.” Thankfully, the 10 Jokers who emerged onto the streets of Cordova on Halloween weren’t bent on mayhem.

On Halloween morning, Christian Adams met with eight other students in a hallway of Cordova Jr./Sr. High School. There, the students made up one another either in the style of Ledger or of Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in the recently released film “Joker.” Adams’s goal was to tip the scales in favor of the school’s senior class during Spirit Week.

During Spirit Week, freshmen, sophomores and seniors compete to see which class will reach the highest percentage students in costume. With the help of its nine Jokers, the 2019 senior class won handily.

“We showed that the seniors were going all-in on Spirit Week,” Adams said. “This was a quick and easy way of doing it. And it was fun! Everybody was laughing.”

Adams, who donned Phoenix-style makeup, recently viewed “Joker” and found it compelling. Earning over $900 million worldwide during its first month in theaters, “Joker” quickly unseated “Deadpool 2” as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. Rather than emulating the sprawling scope of previous DC Comics films, “Joker” draws inspiration from smaller-scale psychological thrillers like Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy.”

“It was a different take,” Adams said. “It’s definitely not a movie for everybody, but I liked it.”

An additional Joker was spotted at Nichols’ Back Door Store, where Maston Johnson manned a cash register wearing Ledger-influenced makeup.

A variety of books on display at Cordova Public Library’s Trick or Treat for Booooks event. (Oct. 31, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
A variety of books on display at Cordova Public Library’s Trick or Treat for Booooks event. (Oct. 31, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

While many businesses handed out candy and toys on Halloween, children filed into the Cordova Center to choose from a table strewn with 350 new books. Cordova Public Library’s “Trick or Treat for Booooks” event drew 400 visitors, organizers said.

“The kids were already getting plenty of candy all over town, so this was something different,” Carlson said. “It was a really good turnout. The weather was nice, and everyone was in really good spirits.”

Available reading material ran the gamut from board books for young children to novels and comic books for older readers. Library Director Debbie Carlson attributed the event’s success in part to its suitability for young children, who are effectively excluded from other Halloween events that might be too scary.

Friends of the Library, a nonprofit, bulk-ordered 260 books from the Scholastic Corporation for the event. This was supplemented by around 90 additional books, some of which were surplus from previous events.

Trick or Treat for Booooks was run by a team of two volunteers and two library staff, with an additional staff member attending to the library’s normal functions.

“Manpower is the big challenge at any of these events,” Carlson said. “I’d like to see more people get involved with Friends of the Library.”

The Halloween event will be followed up by an Easter event in which young library patrons will be able to enter a drawing for baskets of books.