2017 marked the 44th edition of the NYC Halloween Village Parade, one of the largest in the Country and the only one that takes place nighttime.
The Parade is a powerful event, for while it is happening, it animates all the senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, color and movement. The emotional response that it generates has a lasting effect on how the participants and those who either watch or hear about the event feel about the places and the people of New York.
Fleeting as it may seem, the Annual Village Halloween Parade provides a subconsciously experienced time structure that lends a sense of durability, continuity and community to New York City life.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer in 1974, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.
After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program. That year the Parade went through many more streets in Greenwich Village and attracted larger participation because of the involvement of the Theater.
After the third year, the Parade formed itself into a not-for-profit organization, discontinued its association with Theater for the New City and produced the Parade on its own.
today the Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world and has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31.
After the 8th year, when the crowd had reached the size of 100,000 Celebration Artist and Producer Jeanne Fleming, a long-time participant in the Parade took over the event. She began working closely with the local Community Board, residents, merchants, schools, community centers and the Police to ensure a grass-roots, small “Village” aspect of the event, while at the same time preparing for its future growth.
Now, 45 years later, the Parade draws more than 60,000 costumed participants and spectators estimated at 2 million. Originally drawing only a postage stamp sized article in the New York Times, now the Parade is covered by all media—local, national and worldwide.

 

Article and pictures by Joseph Ralph Fraia

 

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