The largest Halloween Parade in the world got underway with extraordinary precision, as all the skeletons, pumpkins, ghouls and monsters – some 60,000 in all – got into order for the march up New York’s 6th Avenue to the rhythm of a host of bands.
The theme of the 42nd Annual Village Halloween Parade was “Shine a Light! In times of darkness, we bring the Light!”
Official Village Halloween Parade Puppeteers, featuring master puppeteers Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, created the Shine a Light theme, featuring dancing chandeliers and Light Masters offering small lights to the crowds.
This year’s parade also featured several large contingents paying tribute to the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition, including a Day of the Dead commemoration float from the Las Calacas Festival from San Miguel, Mexico.
“This is a serious endeavor involving well-known artists who have a story to tell paying tribute to those creatures and humans who died this past year.”
100 teens from the Casita Maria Center in the South Bronx also exhibiting Day of the Dead costumes and puppets, joined Las Calacas. It was their first time at the Parade.
Also, the Mexican Tourism Board sent 30 beautiful Day of the Dead Catrinas in full costume and make-up for the march.
This year’s parade also featured a special Grand Marshall Float in the Parade carrying Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”
Thousands of people lined the route, which extended a mile from Spring Street up to 15th Street, delighting as the bigger-than-life skeleton puppets poked into the crowd and stilt walkers and costumed characters engaged.
Creativity is on full view, a mischievous spirit in the air – this is New York City’s carnival and Mummers wrapped into one.
And the scenics – with the lights of the Freedom Tower downtown, and the Empire State, lit in holiday colors for the occasion uptown andthe buildings lining 6th Avenue like canyon walls – create a fantastical atmosphere.
Walking around Manhattan, with the oddest sights (half the time, you don’t know if people are wearing costumes), just adds to the special thrill of Halloween in New York City.
From humble beginnings in 1974 when Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee started a walk from house to house for his children and friends, the Village Halloween Parade, now headed by Artist and Producer Jeanne Fleming, has become an iconic event of New York City, with some 60,000 participants and hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
Among the participants I meet is a group of “bees” – mainly New Yorkers who knew people from work and friends who knew friends, and got together for the first time for the Climate Change March and resurrected the outfits for this year’s parade.
The Village Halloween Parade, the only major night parade in the country, is the largest public Halloween celebration in the world. It has been named as “The Greatest Event on Earth” for October 31 by Festivals International, and has been listed as one of the “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”
The ghouls and ghosts in the parade certainly would agree.
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