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Village Halloween Parade
History Of The Village Halloween Parade
The parade was first held in 1974. This was a time when Greenwich Village was rich with artists of every kind. New York was then, and still is, a place of creative people working in the theater, movies, music and fine art. The Village’s strong population of creative folk made this then smaller parade a place of inventive costumes, freedom of expression and spectacle.
The Village Halloween Parade has grown from it’s early days of 1,500 people, to the parade it is today, one typically attended by 50 to 60 thousand people. It’s considered New York’s biggest nighttime parade, and is renowned for its vibe of multiculturalism and inclusion.
Joining The Village Halloween Parade
One of the great things about the parade is that anyone can join. It’s well known that the lines between the participants and the observers are not as distinct as you might expect from another parade. In fact, the parade organizers encourage observers to join in. There are a couple of ways to go about it.
If you arrive in costume, you’ll be allowed to join the procession up 6th Avenue or, as it’s otherwise known, the Avenue of the Americas. You’ll have to wait for the first lot of giant puppets to pass before you begin marching. It can take hours for everyone to get into the procession, but that’s part of the fun. There’s a real feeling of carnival about the whole parade.
If you’re in a costume, you’ll want to make it as inventive or outrageous as possible. Each year has a theme, which you can stick to or not. You'll probably see a few ghouls, goblins, and witches, but this is a parade filled with costumes which often defy expectation.
If you don’t want to go the costume route and still want to take part, then you can sign up to be puppet animator. These puppets are often 20 feet tall and, like the costumes, they are inventive and often quite wild. In keeping with the spirit of the event, you don’t need any previous experience with puppets, you can go in as a beginner and become part of the fun.
Getting To The Village Halloween Parade
The Village Halloween Parade gets going at 7 p.m. Being fall in New York, 7 p.m. means the sun has just set and the light is good for the costumes, floats, and puppets which make use of shiny materials and lights. The streets fill up quickly, and people start arriving long before 7 p.m. to get a good view of 6th Avenue. If you just want to observe, get there as early as you can, while those in costume can arrive from 6.30.
The subway will get you close to Spring and Broome Streets, which is the best spot from where to enter the parade.
The parade can take hours, and the fun doesn’t end when the last of the marchers gets to the end at 21st Street. The parade organizers hold an official after-party, and there are many unofficial Halloween parties which go on all over Manhattan and other areas of the city.
Things To Know About The Village Halloween Parade
Because the parade goes in one direction, up the Avenue of the Americas, don’t try and move against the flow. The streets are patrolled and you won’t be allowed to do it.
The streets will be packed, so arriving by car isn’t really an option. Unless you’ve registered a vehicle with the parade organizers, even a brilliantly done-up car won’t be allowed in.
If you’re marching with friends, it’s wise to hook-up with them away from 6th Avenue. Meet at a designated spot and you’ll be able to find each other far easier than by trying to spot them in the dazzling crowds.