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NYC: Village Halloween Parade

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NYC: Village Halloween Parade

Not unlike Santa’s workshop, there is a studio in Rhinebeck, New York that spends the better part of the year creating fantasy-sized articulated creatures, hand-crafted giants who lumber and slouch, sway and dip at the whim of their puppet masters. There are thousands of lesser masked and costumed beings who come alive on Halloween night, as well as 53 bands and all manner of improvised music, dancing, mobile architecture and processional art, but it is these giants who dominate the dream-like landscape of New York’s annual Village Halloween Parade.

In 1974, artist Ralph Lee founded the parade as a small door-to-promenade for his children and their friends through Greenwich Village. By the 8th year, the parade had incorporated itself and crowds had topped 100,000. Today, the Village Halloween Parade features the work of the city’s top creatives, hosts 60,000 costumed participants and approximately two million spectators and has moved out of the tiny streets of Greenwich Village to the more accommodating space of 6th Avenue.

The parade’s thematic for 2016 is Reverie:

Time out. Unplug. Unhook. The world is too much with us. Shut out the noise. Sink into Reverie – that liminal space in which one creates.

One thinks of Halloween as a chance to fantasize, but more than anything Halloween lets us realize, allowing us to play ourselves, leaving the remainder of the year for sleepwalking…

…In these moments of reverie, our eyes are fresh, a child’s eyes. Our thoughts unfettered by habit, ideas and inspirations swirl in. Spending time in this space repairs the spirit so one can go back into the everyday world refreshed and stronger. Creativity heals the collective as well as the individual soul. This is not escapism, this is the engagement that is art.

So this year we celebrate Reverie, inviting one and all to recreate their waking dreams.

Getting there and things to know:

  • Only costumed participants are invited to walk in the parade. The staging area is on 6th Avenue at Canal, access from Sullivan, East Broome and Canal.
  • The parade is 100% alcohol free with zero tolerance.
  • It begins at Spring St. and runs straight up 6th Avenue. Although the parade starts at 7:00pm, with so many parade participants, it takes about two hours to move the entire group out of the initial staging area. It ends at 16th/17th Street around 11:00pm.
  • If you’re meeting others for the parade, select a spot away from the dense crowds of 6th Avenue and then proceed to the parade route together.
  • Best viewing areas are in the village but they fill up early.
  • Can’t make it? The parade will be telecast live on NY1 from 7:30pm – 9:30pm


An alternative Halloween Parade for children:

Families with younger kids may find the main Village Halloween Parade overwhelming and age-inappropriate. However, a parallel children-centred parade is held in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village on Halloween afternoon, attracting a couple of thousand costumed children and their parents for a walkabout in the park, distribution of sweets, entertainment and other activities. Although the 2016 details for the Greenwich Village Children’s Parade have yet to be released, the 2015 event started at 1:30pm, with marchers gathering at 1:00pm at the arch. Check back here for updated info in the upcoming weeks.

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