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Hello everyone! Omar here. In case you don't know, I run 13 Days 13 Shorts. I'm the one that sends the emails and stuff. And I just want to say... well, a lot haha. 

Halloween wasn't just my favorite holiday growing up, it was my favorite season. I was raised in the suburbs, which, in case you've never been to any suburbs, they're incredibly boring. Cookie cutter houses, cookie cutter (and drought unfriendly)
lawns, everyone kind of kept to themselves. By design it was not an exciting place to be.

Except for Halloween. 

See, around Halloween time, the cookie cutter houses became haunted mansions. The cookie cutter (and drought unfriendly) lawns became cemeteries or scary woods or a carnival. And it turns out all that mundane boring design was hiding some of the most creative and inspired people just looking for a reason to craft a world, an experience, even for just one night.

Huge spiders flying down from rooftops. Witches and ghosts greeting you at the door with candy. Mad science laboratories would appear where a drab garage one stood.  

Halloween was a time filled with wonder. When a neighborhood becomes magic. 

But something I love about 13 Days is that there's no need for lawns or candy or property ownership here. This is just... ours. For thirteen glorious nights folks from all around the world make art, share art, and celebrate art. And that's because Halloween for me growing up was the suburbs. But it didn't have to be. It could be anything. 

Because Halloween is anything to anyone, and everything to everyone. 

It's a holiday that mixes cultural traditions, crosses borders, combines flavors and scents and colors, and gets to be defined every year by us. Time also gets a bit wibbly around Halloween! What's the Halloween vibe? Is it the 1950s? The 1750s? The 90s? Who could say?! 

It's all of it. Which is why nothing feels more Halloween than all of you participating. I can't thank you enough. This was our biggest year yet. We had submissions touching four continents, a massive list of timezones, and a wonderful array of artistic styles, instincts and sensibilities. We had so many submissions I had to figure out how to make a clickable category list! 

From collages to paintings to food to cross stitch to music videos to short films to poems to indie cozy video games and yoga poses and ttrpg book pages, this year you all redefined what this festival is capable of. I am beyond impressed, I am beyond amazed, I am beyond words. 

I run this festival. It's just me. Little ol' me. So trust me when I say it means the world to me that you all contribute your time and your art to the Halloween season. Because Halloween doesn't just happen. People make it happen. 

And if Halloween is a time filled with wonder, when a neighborhood becomes magic, well...

Well then 13 Days 13 Shorts is our neighborhood. Our collective Halloween home. We may not know each other, we may never actually meet, but we come here to appreciate one another, to comment on posts, to peruse and get inspired. We wear our art like costumes, not to disguise ourselves but to, for one glorious moment, show a part of ourselves to the world. This is our incredible little Halloween village.

Thank you for making it such a magical one.

Please get some rest, don't let that candy go stale, maybe enjoy an apple or an apple-spiced item, throw on either Hocus Pocus or just go cut some friggin bats out of paper. Whatever you do, enjoy it. Enjoy your time. Enjoy your year. And know that we'll be back, here, together, when the leaves begin to change color and the moon takes on that slightly eerie light, we'll be back here, our happy Halloween home.

- Omar

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