Tag Archives: Jeanne Fleming

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

The Halloween Parade 2016

Day Fifty-Seven: Marshaling ‘The Halloween Parade’ in New York City October 31, 2016

Halloween has never meant ‘Trick or Treating’ to me.  Even as a child, I was bored with it by the sixth grade and did not want to go out for it anymore. I liked it better when I got to college and was able to be on the entertaining part of it. I would assist other student government leaders in entertaining small children during the holiday.

As an adult, I still assist with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Rag-a-Muffin parade and the holiday party over my years as a fireman. What I enjoy the most is volunteering for the Annual Halloween Parade in New York City and seeing the magic of a parade come to life.

For the last three years, I have worked with a very distant cousin of mine through marriage, Mark Schuyler, whose family married into mine (the Beekman family) about 150 years ago so hence I tease him and call him my cousin. Over the past few years we have assisted in getting performing groups in the parade to where they are supposed to be and keeping the wondering tourists and demanding New Yorkers out of the parade staging area. I can’t believe how many people feel because they live in Manhattan that they are ‘entitled’ to enter the parade staging area to watch the parade come to life. We have too many people to attend to and we are ‘working’ even in volunteer form.

My ‘cousin’, Mark Schuyler and I at the gate at the Halloween Parade

Watching the magic of our founder, Jeanne Fleming, as the parade gets bigger and more creative by the year, you can see the countless hours that so many volunteers put into making this parade special. I am a seven year Alumnus of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (with my seven years as a Macy’s executive in the Buying Offices) and know what it takes to organize a parade. This is more of a ‘peoples’ parade as the people who join the parade whether in a group holding puppets, performing in a band or waving on a float, these costumed participants are what make this parade special and add that spark to how real people mold this parade into what it has become.

Jeanne Fleming

Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader at the Halloween Parade NYC

It is always an exciting night. We must have had a good group or I am just used to people trying to pull one over on me that I found it easier to get people in and out of the parade route. They will tell you every story to get in and no one wants to pay attention because we ‘know nothing’. I love when the answer always ends with ‘but I am a New Yorker!’ Great everyone, so are millions of others who know the rules of parade route. We are lucky to have the NYPD with us the whole time. A beefy police officer walking towards you usually ends the conversation.

When we finish our duties of getting all the talent to where they need to go, around 7:30pm, I get to see the rest of the volunteers work their part of the magic. You should see how the volunteers and the NYPD keep the order of thousands of people in costume walking in the parade and how it is coordinated with floats and marching bands. It is quite a feat. I have never seen people have more fun marching in a parade and showing off the creativity of their costumes or just enjoying the evening with family and friends. The parade route just keeps getting deeper and deeper every year as the reputation of the parade keeps getting bigger.

Halloween Parade 2019

What really makes the Halloween Parade successful is the people who are participate. The thousands of New Yorkers, residents from the surrounding states and the foreign tourists that add their enthusiasm and sense of excitement of either watching or participating in the parade. I talked with people all night and it seems tourists from all over the world came downtown to see the parade. Even little kids came down dressed up for the evening who might not celebrate Halloween in their country.

Because I have to work the parade, I get to see the staging area of the parade on Sixth Avenue and I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown. The evening had been rather warm for Halloween Day but as it wore on it did get cooler and I could not believe some of the costumes these Caribbean and Brazilian groups were wearing on a cold night. It was not the tropics outside and I did not know how far some of these women were going to go before they had to put a coat on.

As the last of the bands heading uptown around 9:00pm, there were still hundreds of people in costume waiting to walk the parade route. It was cool but not cold that night but some of the people in costume I knew would not last long walking uptown. They were just not dressed for a cool New York night. Some of the costumes I did see really sparked with creativity from members of the books “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland” to the casts of “101 Dalmatians” and “Star Wars”, some showed the time and effort of getting ready for a one night event. Others were standard but original costumes from cowboys and Indians to robots, witches, Demons and cheerleaders. Each one adding their own charm to the event.

Our last part of the evening for the crew of the parade was an after-party that one of the production company’s had for us. It was in a very nice loft near the NYU campus and I was not sure how many people they were expecting but one tray of ziti and one tray of ravioli is not enough for the hundred people that came through that night. We were all exhausted and cold from being outside all night.

As I took the subway back to Port Authority to go home, I saw costumed people walking all over the city, on the streets and in the subways. Plus the hundreds of people walking around going into restaurants and bars all over the city. As I learned from last year, restaurants all over lower Manhattan that stayed open even as far as Chinatown and Little Italy were busy for the rest of the evening.

This is my third year of working on parade and I can tell you it is never dull and gets more exciting every year.

This is the parade in 2016. I give the YouTube contributor credit for this video. I was working that day.

 

The Halloween Parade 2016

The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

Day Twenty Two: The Halloween Parade on Halloween Night New York City October 31, 2015

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.

Halloween Parade 2015 II

The Halloween Parade 2015

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

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.

456 Chinese Restaurant

456 Chinese Restaurant on 456 Mott Street has the best Soup Dumplings

It has been such a nice night for the parade it seemed that every restaurant from 23rd Street to the tip of Manhattan stayed open and they were all busy! The parade attracts so many people that every restaurant from the fast food restaurants and pizzerias to the fine dining establishments were packed with people having a good time.

456 Chinese Restaurant II

The inside of 456 Chinese Restaurant on Mott Street

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.

 

 

The Halloween Parade is every Halloween night on October 31st from 7:00pm to about 9:30pm. You can see the parade on Sixth Avenue.

Places to Eat:

456 Chinese Restaurant

65 Mott Street A

New York, NY  10013

(212) 964-0003

Open: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-10:00am/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

http://www.456shanghai.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2362361-Reviews-456_Shanghai_Cuisine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905