Thursday, October 28, 2010

New York's 38th Annual Village Halloween Parade.

Sunday, October 31, 2010 7pm. All those in costume are welcome to join hundreds of puppets, 42 bands of different types of music, dancers and 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!  Telecast live on WPIX Channel 11 from 7 – 10 pm and on NY1 News from 8 – 9:30. 
This year marks the 38th Annual New York's Village Halloween Parade. Started by a Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer 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. 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. 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.

After the 8th year, when the crowd had reached the size of 100,000 Celebration Artist and Producer Jeanne Fleming, a long-time participant in the Parade took over the event. She began working closely with the local Community Board, residents, merchants, schools, community centers and the Police to ensure a grass-roots, small "Village" aspect of the event, while at the same time preparing for its future growth. Now, 30 years later, the Parade draws more than 60,000 costumed participants and spectators estimated at 2 million. 
Originally drawing only a postage stamp sized article in the New York Times, now the Parade is covered by all media--local, national and worldwide. 
The Parade has won an Obie Award and been recognized by the Municipal Arts Society and Citylore for making a major contribution to the life and culture of New York City. In 1993 the Parade was awarded a major NEA Grant for Lifetime Achievement and in 1993 and 1997--it's 20th and 25th Anniversary Years-- it was awarded Tourism Grants from both the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President in recognition of its economic and cultural contribution to New York City. Additionally, the Parade has been the subject of many books, scholarly dissertations, independent films and documentaries due to its position as an authentic "cultural event." 
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. The Proclamation concludes: "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." In that same statement, the Mayor declared the week of October 24-31 to "HALLOWEEKTM in NYC in perpetuity."
Perhaps our greatest honor came only 7 weeks after the tragic events of 9/11, when Mayor Rudolf Giuliani insisted that the Parade take place stating that it would be a healing event for New York. With the eyes of the world looking at us, we created a giant Phoenix puppet rising out of the ashes. Hundreds of millions of of viewers worldwide watched as the Parade provided tangible evidence that NYC was enduring, safe, surviving, and spirited in the face of great tragedy and hardship. In 2005 we paid tribute to New Orleans and invited all Katrina evacuees to join us in a Funeral Procession Tribute to the stricken city. Over 8,000 evacuees showed up for the Parade and Benefit. In 2010 the Parade has commissioned Haitian Karnaval Artist Didier Civil to make traditional Haitian Carnival figures in a themed element entitled "Memento Mori!" in support of his efforts to rebuild the Art School in Jacmel, Haiti's center for Carnival.