Parade participants during the 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade on October 31, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The Village Halloween Parade – An artsy party in motion

October 30, 2018 - 11:16 am
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By Mark G. McLaughlin

New York City's annual Village Halloween Parade is a unique, joyous and very artsy party in motion.  There are marching bands and musical acts of many types, along with giant puppets, local celebrities and thousands of average citizens dressed up costume.  It is a parade unlike any other.

What makes the Village Halloween Parade so special?

The Village Halloween Parade's organizers and sponsors are pretty much spot-on when they refer to their parade as the “most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world!” Even though Halloween is traditionally “spooky” and “scary,” this particular celebration is held “in an atmosphere of love – not fear,” as the organizers note proudly. Participants sign up to march in the spirit of honoring “those who passed by embracing life in its fullest.” The parade also has a costume theme. This year, the theme is “I AM a Robot!”

Who will be in the parade?

The Village Halloween Parade is traditionally “a pageant that evokes the muses.” In keeping with this artistic theme, the parade includes at least 35 bands – and not just the kind that march at half-time at football games or in the Thanksgiving Day parades. There will also be hundreds of dancers, puppeteers (with their puppets, of course) and many other artists, as well as local celebrities and public figures. (Last year Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo led the parade). Thousands of people dress up in costumes, most of them homemade, just to join in behind the bands and puppets. This year the Grand Marshal is “extreme costumer” Machine Dazzle.

When does the parade start?

The parade kicks off promptly at 7 P.M. on Halloween night (Wednesday, October 31). It continues until about 11 P.M. – but that does not include the many after parties.

What route does the parade take?

The parade musters at the corner of 6th Avenue and Canal Street. From there, the parade goes up 6th Avenue, from north of Spring Street to 16th Street.

Where is the best place to view the parade?

Some say the best place to see the parade is from within it. Anyone in costume can sign up to participate. There are many good spots along the route to see the action, but it is best to come early to get a spot. The route between Bleecker and 14th Streets are always the most crowded. The premier viewing spot is in the VIP Robot Section. Spaces are limited, and in addition to a $25 fee, entrance is limited to those who appear in costume as either a Robot or an Android. Those who purchase an advance ticket will also gain access to a secret entry point (to be revealed only just before the parade).

How do I get to the parade?

Forget driving; New York has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, so take the bus, subway or PATH train. Buses will be rerouted around 6th Avenue from 6 p.m. until the parade route clears, but there are several subway stations close to the route. The best way to get to Sixth Avenue is via the B, D, F or Q trains to 23rd, 14th or West 4th Street Stations. Less crowded but also very close to the parade are the 1,2,3 and 9 trains to 23rd, 18th, 14th, Sheridan Square or Houston Street on Seventh Avenue; or the A, C and E trains to West 4th Street or the Canal Street of Spring Street stations on 8th Avenue. Those taking the PATH train from New Jersey should take the 33rd Street Train to Sixth Avenue and detrain at the 9th, 14th or 23rd Street stops.