Monday, November 2, 2015

A walk on Halloween Saturday Night in New York City through The East Village, Union Square and Greenwich Village

Once every 7 years or so Halloween falls on a Saturday night and New York fills up even more with the spooky, the sexy, the funny, and the strange. We started our day/night/day walk at the corner of Union Square and Broadway...

14th and Union Square East. The Muppet Show's incomprehensible Swedish Chef.

Broadway near 13th Street. Still daylight and the sidewalks are spookily quiet.

Canal Street. Costumed partiers begin to spill out of the subways and the atmosphere starts to get electric.

Canal Street near 6th Avenue. The Mad Hatter and Alice. Traffic on Canal grinds to a halt with rubberneckers in cars, trucks and buses and the sidewalks are spilling over...

Canal Street. Stone silent with a mohawk. He was shivering in the relatively warm night.

Canal Street west of 6th Avenue. Sunset and instantly the crowd swells at the general entry spot for The 42nd Annual Village Halloween Parade.

Crossing Canal Street. The famous parade runs 7-11 pm and heads up Sixth Avenue from Spring to 16th Streets.

Canal Street at 6th Avenue. A massive police presence rings the peaceful and anticipatory crowd. It is nearing 7pm and the sun has just set.

Canal Street. To enter the parade in costume, you had to meet at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street at 7 pm with a cut-off at 9 pm.

6th Ave near Grand Street. Kermit The Frog holds it down. The tradition of the Village Halloween Parade is to invite EVERYONE in costume to join the parade.

6th Avenue at Grand Street. Revelers are let go every 15 minutes or so in groups of what seems like 20. Progress is slow with intersections kept clear with use of blue ribbons.

6th Avenue near Watts. Forced into crowded pens where northward progress comes to a stand still the crowd gets restless. With dry and relatively warm weather on Halloween night, artistic and producing director Jeanne Fleming, said that "crowds could reach to 2 million for the celebration." Costumes reach the horizon from north to south.

6th Avenue near Broome Street. After an hour or so of shuffling inch-by-inch progress we reach the floats. Music and smoke machines get pumping and the mood of the impatient crowd starts to improve. Cheers are heard spreading up 6th Avenue.

6th Avenue near Broome Street.  Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1974, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.

6th Avenue near Spring. The crowds are finally allowed to roam freely and the northward march begins. 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.

North of Spring Street. Some use the parade as a platform for protest.

Near Vandam Street. The route is remarkable dark with some street lamps out or possibly covered. A photographers nightmare. ISOs are raised to stratospheric levels and apertures yawn wide.  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.

At Houston Street. The spectator crowds swell massively here with watchers on both sides of the Avenue cheering and shouting from inside their own pens. People pack windows and straddle light poles, most of whom are in costumes as well.

Just north of Houston Street. The marchers are able to spread out, interacting with the spectators and many start dancing around.

Just north of Bleecker Street. The parade reaches fever pitch with everyone having a great time. 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.

Approaching Minetta Lane. The route is strangely dark along this packed stretch. Our camera is working over-time in virtually no light.

Near Minetta Lane. Spectators and marchers along the route, with the most crowds between Bleecker and 14th Streets. The sea of cheering stretches northward. It is fun, loud and awesome.

Near Carmine Street. Light up costumes and hair really stand out. This year's theme is "Shine A Light," based on Martin Luther King's quote, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that."

North of Carmine Street. The bat mobile rolls northward.

Near West 3rd Street. The relatively warm night and great weather make the march fun and the village seems like the center of the world.

Around West 4th Street. The Penguin and Cat Woman show the tremendous detail and skill put into many of the costumes. Comic book characters are a staple of quality workmanship.

At West 4th Street. Light improves. Being "non-sanctioned" photographers we are not allowed to linger long with parade volunteers hounding us to keep moving. Press lanyard toting photogs are having a field day in the flood lights.

Near West 4th. The inventiveness of the costumes make the blocks fly by.

Just about half way. Sexy costumes of innumerable variety walk the route, often surrounded by dozens and dozens of leering photographers. We caught one alone near Papaya Dog.

Approaching Waverly Place. We run into the bat mobile again. The numbers of spectators lining 6th avenue is staggering.

At Waverly Place. The neon of one of our favorite diners lights up the crowd. Artistic and producing director Fleming said, "We make a utopian society for a few hours when everyone can come together joyfully." We can't argue with that.

Near West 8th Street. Our pit Hudson is loving the parade and enjoying the occasional sneaked bit of dropped candy, wrapper and all.

6th Avenue at West 9th Street. Besides those lining the route in what seemed at times to be piles, a reported world-wide television audience of one hundred million watches the spectacle.

Near West 10th Street. Another "Sanctioned Photographer" light area. Again shooed away by dozens of volunteers, but managed to get a quick shot. The camera thanked us.

Near West 11th Street. We run into our ghoulish friend from Canal Street who finally found her friends. The parade has been featured in many national magazines and travel guides, and has been a subject of study by leading cultural anthropologists.

Near West 12th Street. According to The New York Times, "the Halloween Parade is the best entertainment the people of this City ever give the people of this City." The crowd is funneled into 16th Street at the parades end and shuffle slowly eastward between police barricades and under the watchful eyes of dozens of officers. Nearly 1,750,000 barricades were used (* number not verified ), reportedly (*source not verified, either) enough to make the trip out to the planet Mars and back. Twice.

At Union Square. The party continues where we started a few hours ago. Crowds pack the south end.

Union Square South. Parade marching is hunger business, even for Death itself. Here The Grim Reaper recharges his battery at one of the many food carts.

Union Square South. Food cart workers know better than to keep a hungry Red Skull waiting and get down to business preparing his meal.

East 14th Street near Park Avenue. The sidewalks are alive and the night seems to be just getting started.

14th Street at Park Ave. Shoppers, seemingly unware its Halloween, file into the big box retailers that line the park and surrounding area. The famous operatic clown "Canio" from Pagliacci was having none of it, enjoying the street theater instead.

Along East 14th Street. Employee overheard on his phone: "Uh, hello boss, do we carry body-bags?...  yeah and they seem in a hurry."

Along 14th Street. The Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, was also be marked, with "catrinas" - women made up in skeleton makeup and period formal wear participating in the parade.

Near Irving Place. Two officers visiting from  South Africa sample some of the local Halal food.

East 14th Street near 1st Avenue. Unsure even what era we are in anymore we put away the camera and wander off into the night...

Next morning...

We swing by St Marks church in the Bowery for Mano a Mano's Day of the Dead 2015 NYC ~ Mexican Culture without Borders Day of the Dead Celebration. Then off to bed for some much need rest...


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