Tag Archives: Basil Twist Artist

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Nine: Halloween returned in an era of COVID October 31st, 2020

This Halloween was very subdued but not entirely canceled this year.

New Jersey still allowed Trick or Treating even though I saw very few children outside on the one nice sunny day we had seen in over two weeks. Because of the recent hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast, we got the tail of the last two storms. It had been cloudy and gloomy for almost three weeks and Halloween day was the first nice day we had. I could see that people wanted to get out of the house.

In the era COVID, I could not see too many people going out Trick or Treating. It was an unusual Halloween for me as I was usually preparing for a long day of working at the Halloween Parade in Manhattan but because of COVID that parade was cancelled. This on top of pretty much any other Halloween related activity. Things were done on a smaller scale. I saw small children Trick or Treating in our downtown business district and some parents were weaving between businesses to talk to merchants.

Residents in our community really decorated their houses and in some cases overdid it. I felt like I was passing mini cemeteries and houses of horror. I can understand that parents wanted to bring some sense of normalcy to their families in this extremely rough time.

Halloween Night in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

I started the day at a drill with the fire department. We spent the morning using the Hurst tools and practicing cutting a van. The department was practicing rescuing people from a trapped vehicle. It was a good training session as we all got chances to cut parts of the van and then get a small lecture on our work. At the end of the day, we had a wrap up session and then a pizza lunch. It was nice to just relax after a busy morning.

Our new coach, Mel Tucker, lead Michigan State University to victory

When I got home I arrived in time to watch the forth quarter of the Michigan State versus University of Michigan game. After the disaster we had the week before with Rutgers, we needed this win badly. I would like to say it was a back and forth game but we dominated them for most of the game and pulled out the win 27-24. Watching the Michigan players leave the stadium with all the arrogance gone was enjoyable. This since their coach practically forced the Big Ten to play when COVID is raging all over the country.

Beating Michigan every year is a pleasure!

Don’t miss the highlights from the game. It was something!

After the game was over, my best friend, Kris and I had a long and very excited conversation about the game which is the bragging rights of Michigan and that is a big deal between both sets of Alumni.

I looked outside on the sunny day and saw absolutely no Trick or Treaters. The Halloween Parade Committee had sent out an email earlier in the week that the Spider Puppet would be ‘crawling out of’ Jefferson Market Library on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street plus there would be a slide show in Times Square. With no other plans and a beautiful night ahead of me, off I went into Manhattan.

My first stop was Times Square which is a hop, skip and jump from Port Authority. I swear the whole area was crowded with people in costume having a wonderful time. I was surprised with the COVID going on how many people especially young families with children were not wearing masks. They were wearing costumes with no face coverings including the children.

Since the parade was cancelled, people had their own makeshift parade and were laughing, yelling and having a good time talking to one another in the closed off portion of Times Square between West 42nd to West 45th Streets along Broadway. I could see people just wanted to don a costume and forget all their troubles. I never realized how much people enjoyed the parade and how much they missed it.

Halloween Night in Times Square

Times Square on Halloween Night 2020

Try as I might, I could not find that billboard with the pictures of the Halloween Parade on it and I could not remember if they posted a side street with the information so I walked about four blocks around the square looking for the billboard and admiring the costumes.

I decided to head to the Village to see the spider puppet emerge from the library. That was another busy neighborhood. All the side street around Sixth Avenue were jammed with people in restaurants and bars. Here they were wearing masks to a point. When they were seated in extremely crowded restaurants, it was mask off. I could tell though again people were having a good time. Everyone looked fatigued and just needed to let off a little steam.

Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

Pumpkin Men greeted people at the Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

I watched as the puppet did emerge and dance around the outside of the library, which is a beautiful Victorian structure. The spider crawled out of the tower and I could see the puppeteers from the balcony above directing the spider.

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

The spider emerges from the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue

The spider is the creation of artist Basil Twist, a professional puppeteer with a studio on Leroy Street in the Village who constructed the puppet in 1994. He created the puppet as an homage to one of the original puppets in the parade that was founded by Roger Lee in the 1970’s. The artist usually waits until the marchers in the Halloween Parade get to Eighth Street to release the puppet. (DNA Info Danielle Tcholakian).

Artist Basil Twist

Artist Basil Twist with his spider in the clock tower of the Jefferson Market Tower

https://www.basiltwist.com/

Artist Basil Twist is an American born artist originally from San Francisco and now resides in New York City. He is a third generation puppeteer and is the only American to graduate from the Ecole Superieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionette in France. He is an artist, puppet designer, director and guest lecturer at many colleges.

A video on artist Basil Twist’s work

On quiet Sixth Avenue that only a year before on a 71 degree night where throngs of people walked uptown in the Halloween Parade, I watched the spider dangle from the library and dance down the side of the building. There were very few people to watch the show but the spider did its thing amusing all of us who watched it.

Just as I started to watch the slide show across the street from the library that was being shown of clips of the Halloween Parade, I ran across Grace, our fearless leader of the Parade who checks me in every year before I work the gate. I could barely recognize her under the mask. She and the creator of the Halloween Parade, Jeanne Fleming, were watching the spider too and running the slide show of past parades on the side of a apartment building across Sixth Avenue.

Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader & Founder of the Halloween Parade

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Fleming

Grace and I talked for a bit while watching the spider crawl down from the balcony about how different a year makes. The Village was still busy with people walking on the streets with costumes and bars and restaurants packed with people enjoying the warm October night. It was definitely strange not to see thousands of people walk up Sixth Avenue after all these years but next year brings hopeful optimism.

The full Moon was in its magnificence that evening

I said my goodbyes to her and Jeanne and took one last stroll around the Village with its outdoor dining and costumed revelers and hoped things would work out. Then I noticed the beautiful full moon overhead. I had never seen one so bright on Halloween Night. No witches crossing the moon but a brightness to light the way into better years ahead.

Still I was also able to sneak up to Croton on the Hudson for the Annual “Pumpkin Blaze” that is sponsored by the Hudson River Historical Society. It was a much toned down event than last year and at 25% capacity was much easier to get through the displays. I had never seen so few people at the event but in the era of COVID it is smarter to have a smaller crowd and have the event than to have nothing. It is the Historical Society’s biggest fundraiser and people were having a good time.

The Van Cortlandt Manor ablaze with sights and sounds in its pumpkin cemetery

The Blaze was amazing with all the music, sites and sounds. I loved the MoMA version of the museum with pumpkin portraits and the Pumpkin Bridge, Ferris Wheel and Spider Webs. There was even a Croton on the Hudson fire truck and ambulance in dedication to all the hard work during COVID. Smaller yes but no less wonderful. I am glad that ran the event.

The Pumpkin Ferris Wheel at the Pumpkin Blaze at Croton on the Hudson

One of the Pumpkin Paintings based on “The Scream”

Van Cortlandt Manor in all its ghoulish delight the night of “The Blaze”

Justin Watrel (the blogger) at “The Pumpkin Blaze” during the Halloween holidays

I had the most amazing Chinese meal at New Happy Garden at 440 South Riverside Avenue #440 in the ShopRite Mall next to the Blaze and I highly recommend the restaurant. The Orange Chicken with Pork Fried and egg rolls.

A much more toned down Halloween than in the past but between the all events it made Halloween a more special time to get my mind off everything going on in the world.

Happy Halloween!

Highlights from the Halloween Parade 2019

The First Annual Miniature Halloween Parade: The gift of the Halloween Parade Committee in 2020

Places to Visit:

Hasbrouck Heights Home Decorations

Drive around our Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ in Bergen County for Halloween and Christmas decoration every October and December

The Halloween Parade

The Parade steps off at 7:00pm on Halloween Night starting at Canal Street in Manhattan

The Jefferson Market Library (to see the Spider Puppet)

425 Sixth Avenue

New York City, NY 10011

(212) 243-4334

https://www.nypl.org/locations/jefferson-market

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton on the Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 366-6900

Open: Seasonal Please check their website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3677

Places to Eat:

New Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant

440 South Riverside Avenue

Cronton On the Hudson, NY 10520

(914)271-7888

https://www.menupix.com/westchester/restaurants/3212099/Dong-Happy-Garden-Menu-Croton-On-Hudson-NY

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:30pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47560-d4616434-Reviews-Dong_Happy_Garden-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905