Halloween in New York

By Aileen Marshall

Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

It’s that time of year again, goblins and ghouls abound, the real and the fictional. If you are too old to go trick or treating, what is there to do? Luckily, you live in New York, where there are always options for something to do.

The most iconic New York Halloween celebration is the Village Halloween parade. It was started in 1974 by puppeteer Ralph Lee. In that very first year, people on the street got caught up in the mood, and jumped into the parade. It has grown over the years from 1500 revelers marching from West Street to Washington Square, to the present day parade of sixty thousand marching along Sixth Avenue from Spring Street up to 16th Street. This parade is known for its elaborate and outlandish costumes.

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Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

Besides the costume contingents, there are floats and bands and large puppets. People tend to compete to have the most noticeable and impressive costumes. Sometimes they will coordinate and march as a group of a certain character. (How many Elvises can you fit on a block?) Since the parade is at night, people often incorporate some sort of lighting in their costumes. Anyone wearing a costume can enter the parade by waiting at the staging area on Spring Street. Each year the parade has a theme. The theme this year is “Shine a Light”.

The Village Voice gave it an award the first year to encourage it to continue. Now the parade committee works with the city, Community Board 2 and the NYPD. In 2001 the theme was a phoenix rising from ashes as a tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. The only year it didn’t run was during Hurricane Sandy since lower Manhattan had no power. The parade this year starts at 7pm.

Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography
Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

There are a number of haunted houses in the city. There is the reputed kind, considering the city is over 300 years old, and there is the entertainment kind, for your Halloween fun. The best known is Blood Manor. Located at 163 Varrick Street, it is a 5,000 square foot maze of gore and freights. Blood Manor is reported to go through 37 gallons of fake blood each night, hence the name. Tickets are $30 online or $35 in person. Be warned that this attraction is known for its long lines. For more information, go to bloodmanor.com. Another entertaining haunted house is Times Scare, located at 669 Eighth Avenue, the only haunted house open all year long. Tickets are $27 but the associated Kill Bar is free. There are also various theatrical performances such as magic and burlesque shows. Go to timesscarenyc.com for more details. The Jekyll and Hyde Haunted House is located at 91 Seventh Avenue South. The famous story is performed while you wander through the house. There is also a restaurant attached. Their website is jekyllandhydeclub.com.

Another Halloween event gaining momentum is the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. An annual event for several years now, people bring their costumed pooches to the park’s dog walk. It is reportedly the largest annual dog costume parade in the world. Purina, the pet food company, will sponsor a competition and prizes. Enter the park at East 9th Street, between Avenues A and B. The parade this year is Saturday October 24 at noon. A relatively new event is the High Line Harvest Fest. There are activities like a hay bale maize, pumpkin decorating and a haunted train tunnel. There are puppets designed by the Village Halloween Parade founder Ralph Lee. You can take your picture with actors dressed like people from the High Line’s history. The High Line is along Tenth Avenue from 14th to 17th Streets. The festival this year is on Saturday October 24 from 11 am to 3pm. Watch thehighline.org for developments.

Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

The next question is: where to get your costume? One could always go the traditional way and make your own. How many of us have gone as a doctor or scientist using our own lab coats? Or one can purchase or rent a fancy costume at a store. The major store for Halloween costumes is Party City. The closest locations to Rockefeller University are on West 34th Street, near 7th Avenue, and on 48th Street in Queens, near Northern Boulevard. Spirit Halloween is a pop-up shop and there is one right nearby on Second Avenue, near 64th Street. Ricky’s NYC is a famous cosmetics chain known for a wide array of novelty cosmetics, hair dyes, wigs, and accessories that can be used for your own costume. There is one on First Avenue at 64th Street.

Of course, the best Halloween celebration yet is our own party at the Faculty Club, put on by the student council. There is usually a contest for the best costume. It is a proof that scientists can also be creative. Keep an eye out for posters around campus announcing the date and time. Will you be there?