The Village Halloween parade is to downtown New York what apple pie is to America. And yet, there’s a chance it could be called off for the second year in a row due to a severe lack of funding. As it turns out, the city government’s canceling of the parade in the wake of superstorm Sandy in 2012 caused a budget shortfall to the tune of some $50,000. Now that’s scary.
Curently the largest public Halloween event in the U.S., the village parade began in 1974 as a theatrical event geared towards children, then quickly grew more elaborate as more and more people joined in the fun. In 1985, the crowd topped 250,000 and the parade was moved to its current route down 6th Avenue. Billed as a place for people of all races, ages, and sexual orientations to mingle and celebrate their creativity, the parade has become a New York institution, with thousands of participants including artists, dancers, circus performers, puppeteers, float builders, and regular folks who just want to show off their costumes coming together each year. Attendance is in the millions, with many more watching worldwide.
Run by a small paid staff and an army of volunteers, the 39-year-old parade always went smoothly until last year, when the damage wrought by superstorm Sandy dictated that city resources be directed elsewhere. While obviously prudent at the time, this decision caused the parade to lose thousands of dollars on services it would not be able to make use of and deprived it of the chance to make any of it up by collecting donations from walkers and spectators. The parade also had to buy expensive cancelation insurance to protect sponsors from potential continuing problems.
So its organizers are doing what any reasonable representatives of a beloved local tradition would do: making a Kickstarter (kickstarter.com/projects/729950056/bring-halloween-back-to-nyc) to help spread the word. “In a way the New York Halloween parade is our carnival,” says musical director Matthew Fass. “New Orleans has Mardi Gras, we have Halloween. It’s looking like we can’t have this parade unless we get your support … and we need help from everybody.”
Rewards for donating include skeleton masks, the chance to dance in the parade’s “Thriller” section (must attend two rehearsals), and the services of a Lady Gaga impersonator. Plus, the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you helped put smiles on children’s faces. So open your heart, pony up some cash if you are able, and then start working on your costume, because that grass skirt isn’t going to sew itself. The show must go on!