I postponed my walk today and got all my errands done early so I could get to the parade route downtown on Dominick Street. It was my second year as a volunteer Marshal for the Annual Halloween Parade in New York City. This parade has gone in leaps and bounds in the twenty-five years that I have lived in the New York area.
Being in a parade can be exciting if you are the one marching in it. For those of us who work the parade, it can be a fun but trying evening. I got there at 4:00pm and it was nice because I worked with the same group of people that I did last year and we really get along well. It is also a very organized group of volunteers lead by our supervisor, Marc, who has been in the parade for years. Nothing gets past Marc including all the bullshit that people say when they are trying to sneak their way past the Marshaling area. I swear I heard some whoppers that even I didn’t know to believe.
Photographers arriving after the parade has already started looking for press passes, spectators who keep claiming that their friends are inside the Marshaling area, costumed people who would not walk down to Canal Street and walk through with the entertainers. Then the entertainers friends sneaking in with their friends not realizing that there is serious organization going into the parade from the launch area for the entertainers. I swear, we had more people yell at us as the parade was about to begin then all my years in retail. They all thought this is a spectator spot.
By six thirty, it was all out craziness considering many of the participants who were with musical groups and the floats were so late, it was a rush to get in. This is when everyone else tried to sneak in as well. So many people arrived late that by seven, some of the floats and bands had already left the staging area and were on route up Sixth Avenue. I saw more than one musician and costumed float marcher get annoyed when we told them their group left twenty minutes earlier. This is considering the parade was on a Saturday and there was not the usual traffic that day.
By 7:45pm, the parade had already long started and our duties were all done so we got to leave the post for the evening and I got to go inside the launch area and watch the parade from where the press stood, which is the best place to see everything at Spring Street and Sixth Avenue. There was so much going on getting the floats, bands and thousands of costumed marchers into their spots, I give my fellow Marshals for this part of the parade a lot of credit.
The parade from what I saw for the last hour of it was a lot of fun. People on the floats were preparing for their time slot, dancing around their creations, bands were putting the final touches on their costumes before the long walk up Sixth Avenue and then there were the thousands of people in costume corralled behind ropes ready to ‘walk the walk’ to show off their costumes to a huge crowd of New Yorkers, who were enjoying their version of Mardi Gras.
I had seen the parade as a spectator for years but to be part of the parade and see it from behind the scenes of how it is created for the pleasure for the spectators is amazing. The work that goes into planning this parade not just in getting sponsors and performers to perform but the building of the puppets upstate and the time and effort people put into their costumes for the parade is a true love of the holiday. I wish I could have seen the parade growing up instead of the lame trick or treating in the suburbs I was subjected to every Halloween. For over a decade I worked in the city and it became a tradition with my friends and I or coming in with my father we would go to Chinatown for dinner and then go watch the parade. The last time I came to see the parade was in 2003 with my father and after dinner we settled in at 14th Street only to go almost mowed down by people trying to film the ‘Thriller Dance’ for the twenty anniversary of the video. After that, he refused to come in for the parade.
Thriller Dance The Village Halloween Parade
Towards the end of the parade after all the bands and floats had left to head uptown there will still over a thousand people ready to make the march. The alternate routes from Canal Street to Spring Street had people still coming up until about 9:30pm when the last of the marchers walked past us. Then started the clean up and break down by the police.
I walked down Spring Street after the parade to see massive amounts of people flood the bars and restaurants of SoHo, NoHo, Tribeca, Little Italy and Chinatown. The smart restaurants remained opened and were packed with patrons from the parade some braving the cooling evening and eating outside. It was still nice out by 9:30pm but temperature was dropping by the half hour. I ending up at 456 Chinese Restaurant on Mott Street for the most delicious late night summer. They make a delicious shredded pork with plum sauce and the best crab and pork soup dumplings. I still consider this one of the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and the place stayed open to midnight the night of the parade. After dinner, I walked through Little Italy and their restaurants were still going strong at 11:00pm.
By the time I back to parade site to take the subway uptown, the police had really cleaned up a lot. Most of the barricades were down and the garbage was being picked up. Another Halloween over and a another parade to look forward to in the future. It is something you should experience once visiting the city.
I credit ktodoma for this video of my second time in the parade as a marshal.
Places to Eat:
456 Chinese Restaurant
65 Mott Street A
New York, NY 10013
My review on TripAdvisor: