Halloween in NYC: It’s Not Just for the Young

One of the first things I learned when moving to NYC more than 20 years ago was that when it comes to Halloween, New Yorkers don’t mess around!  My husband and I have lived in 4 different neighborhoods over the past 17 years and each of them has their own fantastic and unique Halloween traditions.  In fact, whenever we talk about moving, it has become one of the criteria to determine how elaborate the Halloween celebration will be.

We started our marriage in the central village in 1999, right in the heart of the famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.  Having an apartment on 6th Ave and 9th street allowed us to experience the parade with our friends by climbing out the kitchen window onto the roof of our building.  This allowed us to appreciate the dancers, artists, music, puppets and thousands of costumed New Yorkers and not have to deal with the crowds! (Photo courtesy of Greenwich Village Halloween Parade website)


In 2000, when we moved to the empty warehouses of TriBeCa and started a family, it seemed like hundreds of other 30 somethings had the same idea. Thus a neighborhood teeming with young children was born.  By 2006, the crowds of kids that came out to trick or treat in Tribeca was so large that the small businesses couldn’t buy enough candy to keep up!  By the year 2010, I was buying more than 80 lbs of candy to give out to the miniature witches and goblins that came calling to my shop (Torly Kid).  


In 2014, we lived for a short while in West Chelsea.  Here, Halloween felt less about the excesses of Tribeca’s children and more about the art and creativity.  What surprised us about this neighborhood was that until the day before Halloween the brownstones on 20th-24th street appeared just the same as every other day.  On Halloween Eve however, the streets were filled with people decorating their property with all sorts of creative scary paraphernalia.  


Some even went as far as bringing in trucks with giant projectors to project ghostly images on the sidewalk.  Several of the blocks were closed to traffic on Halloween night and hordes of adults and children came out in the most elaborate of costumes you have ever seen.  In Chelsea, there is no shortage of celebrities in the mix, including Jennifer Lopez.  

This year, we moved to another famous Halloween ‘hood.  The are of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  The folks of Clinton Hill take Halloween extremely seriously.  What began more than 20 years ago as a partnership with the Society for Clinton Hill to make a safe trick-or-treat event for neighborhood kids, has grown into an elaborate live performance on Halloween night for thousands of visitors.  The folks of Halloween 313 work tirelessly (and strictly voluntarily!) all year long to write, create, design, rehearse and perform, a 30 minute production that runs continuously for one night only.  This year my kids had the great honor to help be a part of that production.  The artist (and older one) helped with set design and the actress (and younger one) performed in several of the shows that evening.  In addition to the show, the Society for Clinton Hill creates a map of the “Halloween Walk” which highlights all of the events going on in Clinton Hill, including Pam Fleming’s Dead Zombie Band on Waverly, and lots of great Halloween decorations designed by the students of the Pratt Institute.  I think maybe we will  stick around in this neighborhood for a while, so as my kids grow out of trick or treating, they will always have an outlet for their love of Halloween!

UPDATE:  Halloween 313 moved in 2018 to Bed Stuy and is now called Masquerade on Macon.


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