The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years since it began as a small neighborhood “promenade” and has become one of the largest Halloween events in the world, was themed UPSIDE/DOWN, reflecting the tumult of the last few years, and inviting self-reflection.
“The Halloween Parade has always been a night of transformation, but this topsy turvy year feels even more-so in terms of realizing a dream, being who you are most authentically in your imagination,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators packed the streets along the mile-long parade route from Canal Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, to thrill at hundreds of puppets, 50 bands representing music from around the world, dancers, artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world – the biggest crowds since 2019.
“I’m astonished by how many people are here,” said a justifiably proud and delighted Fleming. “We invite people to come out and they did!”
Spectators thrilled at seeing hundreds of puppets, 50 bands and dancers representing music from around the world and New York’s melting pot, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation, in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, 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.
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.
Now, 50 years later, the Parade draws more than 70,000 costumed participants and some 2 million spectators, including television-viewing audience, live on NY1 beginning at 8 pm.
In 1994, the Mayor of the City of New York issued a Proclamation honoring the Village Halloween Parade for 20 years of bringing everyone in the City together in a joyful and creative way and being a boon to the economic life of the City. “New York is the world’s capital of creativity and entertainment. The Village Halloween Parade presents the single greatest opportunity for all New Yorkers to exhibit their creativity in an event that is one-of-a-kind, unique and memorable every year. New Yorkers of all ages love Halloween, and this delightful event enables them to enjoy it every year and join in with their own special contributions. The Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is a true cultural treasure.”
The irony is that while Halloween is about taking on a completely different persona, at the Village Halloween Parade, we see New Yorkers’ true selves.
And that’s true to the Upside/Down-Inside/Out theme.
The 45th annual, iconic New York City Village Halloween Parade brought out thousands of costumed participants around the theme, “I AM a Robot!”
“With artificial intelligences learning, adapting, interpreting and reacting as humans do, the times we live in can be overwhelming,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic/Producing Director of New York’s Village Halloween Parade. “This traditional and beloved event aspires to bring folks into their creative imagination—celebrating that quality that differentiates us from robots—and by extension make the world a better place. We as New Yorkers and those visiting the Big Apple can come together, affirm our identity, block out the distractions, focus on joy and inhabit the streets of New York LIVE.”
“The 2018 Village Halloween Parade celebrates what makes us human by exploring how we remake ourselves. For our part, we will deploy a floating phalanx of cybernetic figures, each tethered by glowing wires to its human controller to evoke the increasingly complex strands of identity that entangle man with machine. We invite all of our Halloween makers and marchers to join our positronic collective, expressing your inner cyborgs for an evening of robotic revelry as we employ our most uniquely human qualities–dreaming, fantasizing, creating–to do our best robot impersonations.”
The theme is timely, considering 2018 is also the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s publication of “Frankenstein”.
Grand Marshal Machine Dazzle led the VIP Robot Section.
The Village Halloween Parade is:
The nation’s largest public Halloween celebration
Named as The Greatest Event on Earth by Festivals International for October 31
Attended by over 2 million people, seen by over 1 million on TV.
The nation’s only major night Parade.
Listed as one of the 100 Things to do Before You Die.
Picked by Events International as The Greatest Event on Earth on October 31, and ranked 3rd by Citysearch as the best event in New York City.
Ranked by Biz Bash as one of the top 10 events in NYC.
Recipient of the Municipal Arts Society of New York’s Award for making a major contribution to the cultural life of New York City.
Recipient of a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of Longtime Artistic Achievement.
Recipient of the Mayor’s Tourism Grant in recognition of the Parade’s major impact on the economic life of New York City and grants from the Manhattan Borough President’s Tourism Initiative.
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.
The Village Halloween Parade has been a significant factor in the revitalization of the city and its spirit.
It also affords an opportunity for political expression.