One of New York City’s most iconic annual events takes place right here in Greenwich Village. Every October 31st, costumed revelers and giant paper mache puppets march up 6th Avenue in the Annual Village Halloween Parade. Village residents and Halloween lovers look forward to the parade every year, putting together elaborate costumes to impress the onlookers that line the parade route. It’s a tradition unique to Greenwich Village and helps preserve the neighborhood’s reputation as a home for creative minds.
For only the second time in its nearly fifty year history, 2020’s Halloween Parade has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. There are still many ways to celebrate the holiday in Greenwich Village and honor the legacy of the parade, though.
The first Halloween parade was a more casual event organized by puppeteer and Westbeth Artists Housing resident Ralph Lee. In an effort to create some Halloween fun for his children and their friends, Lee put on a moving puppet show in Westbeth’s courtyard using some of the over 100 giant puppets he had amassed over his career. Over the next two years, the parade grew into a mile-long march of puppets, masked performers and musicians and attracted roughly 1,500 participants. With encouragement from his neighbors, the city and the performing arts community, Lee turned the parade into an annual event.
The event continued to grow in the 1980s and 90s under the direction of Jeanne Flemming, who still runs the parade today. New traditions included hanging a giant spider puppet from the tower of the Jefferson Market Library and the addition of annual themes. The parade has only been cancelled once before – organizers were forced to call off the festivities in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy. The parade returned the next year but not without the help and generous donations of its community. If you’d like to see the parade strut up 6th Avenue again next year, consider donating on their website.
Though this year’s parade is officially cancelled, the organizers have promised that the giant spider will hang from Jefferson Market’s tower once again. They’ve also hinted at some other spontaneous socially distant surprises on Halloween night. Keep an eye on their website for more clues.
There are also several other ways to get (safely) spooky this Halloween season! Check out some of these local events and haunts.
Virtual Halloween Events
Children’s Halloween Parade
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 1:00 PM
To celebrate Halloween this year, Manhattan Community Board 2 and NYU are hosting a virtual Children’s Halloween Parade, featuring a magician, a musical performance, and...a costume contest! The organizers welcome any Halloween costume photo, regardless of when and where the photo was taken. It could be a photo taken this year, last year, or 10 years ago! The virtual parade will feature a slideshow of some of the costumes and at the end we’ll announce some special awards! Email email@example.com with your costume photos by October 16.
Virtual Village Halloween Costume Ball
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – Young Audiences: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM, General Audiences: 6:00 PM – Midnight
Another important Greenwich Village Halloween tradition is Theater for the New City’s annual Halloween Costume Ball featuring acts from talented New York City performers. This year’s event is going virtual, so throw on your costume and enjoy acts from some of the city’s top cabaret performers! The event kicks off at 4 PM with performances for younger audiences, then moves into their show for general audiences from 6 PM to midnight. Tickets are free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Village Haunts to Explore
Merchant’s House Museum
Book a tour of the Merchant’s House Museum, Manhattan’s first landmark and the former home of the Tredwells, a wealthy merchant-class family who occupied the home from 1835 to 1933. The museum features the furniture, household items and art of the time and is the only historic house museum in the area. More importantly for the season, the house is said to be haunted by Gertrude Tredwell, the home’s final resident, who keeps a watchful eye on her family’s home. The museum is also offering virtual ghost tours going deeper into the building’s haunted history throughout the month of October.
Take a DIY Ghost Tour of the Village
Greenwich Village’s rich history makes it possibly one of the most haunted neighborhoods in New York City. So much so that you can plan your own little (socially distanced) ghost tour through area. Stop by the Jefferson Market Garden to commune with the ghosts of some of the prisoners of New York’s first women’s prison. Or visit the “House of Death” on West 10th Street, where residents have reported ghost encounters for decades, including run-ins with former resident Mark Twain. End your evening with a drink at the White Horse Tavern, where the ghost of poet Dylan Thomas allegedly still watches over his favorite seat.
Official Halloween & Holiday Guidance – As Halloween approaches, the City and CDC have issued some guidance for staying safe while trick-or-treating and celebrating in other ways. Please find resources and guidance here:
Event Guidance from the City & State:
Holiday Guidance from the CDC