New York City’s Greenwich Village held its 41st annual Village Halloween Parade on Friday, Oct. 31, the largest parade of its kind worldwide.
Started in 1974 by mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee as a simple walk from house to house, the parade now stretches over a mile with over 60,000 participants in costume and two million spectators, with millions more through television. The grand marshal this year was Whoopi Goldberg.
The nighttime event is more than just a parade – it’s a cultural institution with a mission, as stated on its website:
New York’s Village Halloween Parade is committed to the cultural and imaginative life of New York City and to the advancement of large-scale participatory events in the belief that such events, when artistically inspired, can play a major role in the resurrection and rejuvenation of the City’s spirit, economy and the life of its people.
The Halloween Parade plays an important part in the life of the City. It is the only Parade in the country that has at its heart an artistic base. It’s generous spirit has nurtured hundreds of thousands of people who reach into their imaginations and take themselves physically out into public to perform and to celebrate. We believe public events of this sort give people the opportunity to claim the open spaces of their City for purposes other than work; to inhabit them with a sense of freedom and spontaneity; to play, thus renew their relationship to the environment. 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.
by Keith Perks
Keith is an artist, photographer, and writer. He loves diners, dive bars, Southern culture, anything Irish, and vintage America. He knows Cytoxan kicks in after about eight hours and he once helped save a green pig.