An Insider Guide To The NYC Village Halloween Parade

An Insider Guide To The NYC Village Halloween Parade

Since its inception 45 years ago, the Village Halloween Parade has become a pillar of Greenwich Village culture and a key annual event for New York City, attracting millions of spectators and thousands of participants from all over the world. The 10,000 had the pleasure of catching-up with Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director of the Village Halloween Parade, who told us what it’s like to plan the parade (her 38th, this year). Delve into the history of the parade and the best places to watch below:

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Village Halloween Parade and your 38th year as Artistic/Producing Director. How has the parade evolved since its inception?
The obvious thing that has changed is the scale and size. The parade started as a walk among friends who wore costumes and carried puppets, and gradually grew into what it has become today. What’s most remarkable to me is that the spirit of the parade has remained the same throughout the years. It’s still about the individual creative imagination and about making giant puppets that are truly unique to this event.

In terms of planning, what does it take to coordinate and plan the parade? 
I don’t think a day goes by that I’m not involved in Halloween in some way or another! The parade is something I work on year-round, it’s a very complex thing — especially raising funds to support it. A kind of responsibility to the City exists on a cultural and economic level. The parade generates a lot of income for local businesses and for the City generally, which is one of the many reasons why it’s so important.

Coordinating all the volunteers and participants is another huge part of my job. I personally deal with over 30,000 of the 60,000 people in some capacity. Also dealing with the community of Greenwich Village. Because the parade impacts residents and businesses there I have to deal with the community board and local police to ensure safety, security and permits are attained. We also have close to 1,500 volunteers who have to be taken care of and coordinated.

Can you recall any favorite costumes or puppets? 
There are so many remarkable memories I cherish but one of my favorites from a many years ago was a man who was walking with his young child. The child was wearing an oversized Godzilla mask that came down to his waist while his father walked in front of him placing Dixie cups for on the ground to crush and stomp on. That’s definitely one of the more clever things I’ve seen! Another costume that really moved me was the year the Princess Diana died. A man came to the parade dressed identical to her, dressed as she typically did  wearing a classic blue suit and hat. But instead of standing out and walking in the parade he mingled among the crowds and groups of spectators, mimicking the late Princess’ character and giving her her rightful place in the crowd. The way he walked and how he carried himself… it was extraordinary and moving. You could feel it immediately.

There have been many memorable parades and years too. The Village Halloween Parade was the first major public parade in New York City after the 9/11 attacks, and it was in that parade that the Mayor and Governor walked eight blocks together with me. The parade represents and reflects the spirit and resilience of this city and its people: To go on no matter what.

How does someone participate in the parade, and where’s the best place to watch? 
The idea of the parade is of-course to be in it! It’s all about transformation, not only in terms of costumes and location but also movement and performance. We always encourage spectators to dress-up! The best place to watch is in the heart of the Village between Bleecker and 12th Street, which is also the most crowded. Personally, I’d want to watch the parade at its start below Houston on Sixth Avenue near Spring Street, or anywhere else along the outskirts.

For the very first time we want to encourage people to come as robots. For $25 people can purchase tickets to bypass lines to get into the first section of the parade and march with the parade’s Grand Marshall and DJ, who will play robot-themed music. I think that’s something really special this year. Robots are registering from all over the world – the first one was actually from Thailand and the second from Hawaii, so it’s really going to be an interesting mix of people.

The way the parade runs is kind of unusual. It’s lead by a float, then a group of 2,000 people followed by a band – this pattern is repeated throughout. This year a group of 20 cadets dressed as astronauts from West Point are coming on a cherry red Tesla and they’re going to reenact the famous photograph of Elon Musk in his red Tesla in Space, all while throwing around Earth balls.

How central is the culture of Greenwich Village to the spirit of the Village Halloween Parade? 
Greenwich Village is very different today to how it felt when the parade first started. It used to be home to mostly artists and musicians who have since been priced-out to places in Brooklyn. The one consistent thing about the Village that will never change is how prevalent nature is on the streets. Visitors and New Yorkers love to spend time outside in that part of the city, especially around Halloween and the change of season. Its architecture, topography and history really make it a perfect place for the parade.

Related Stories

Leave a Comment

Leave A Comment Your email address will not be published