The Exchange Series: Halloween In New York

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It is that time of the year. The day where colourful lights, puppets, scary clowns and long noses roam the streets of Greenwich Village, the bohemia of New York.

My exchange destination is none other than the bona fide film noir regular, New York City. In the concrete jungle that Alicia Keys soulfully describes as where dreams are made of, nightmares are turned into creative floats and masks on the last day of October, celebrating the festive holiday that has all of New York pretending to be someone or something else for one night.

Via the lens of one of the city’s favourite holidays, here is an introduction of New York, in its vibrancy and eccentricity that manifests on the rousing grounds of the annual New York Halloween Parade that is held on this spooky day.

People in the Parade
Residents of Greenwich Village

From masks to face make up, almost everyone at the Greenwich area had a costume on. It was amazing to see so many people come together and take part in the event, regardless if they were in the parade or not.

This year was the city’s 45th annual Halloween Parade gathering New Yorkers, young and old to watch the spectacular performances and puppets created to celebrate the holiday. If you were early, you could even join in on the parade. The only catch was that you had to be in a costume.

I met with some friends and we were planning on catching some parts of the parade before joining in, but there were too many people. The parade started at 7pm but even meeting a half hour before it started only permitted us a view of the devil heads and witch hats that gathered in front of us around the event’s fences.

The only costume that I could come up with on a university student’s budget and a tendency for procrastination was a zombie face with a black outfit. Unfortunately, it did not meet the standards of the New York’s Halloween costume police and a few people had to ask me what I was. Everyone knows that that is code for: Your Halloween costume makes no sense and it sucks.

The atmosphere for the night was absolutely insane. People were screaming, dancing and jumping around in excitement for the halloween holiday. But getting around the streets was impossible, with a million diverted routes and blocked roads around the neighbourhood. Rumour has it that there were several accidents that happened last year where someone was stabbed and another was run over by a car on the same day last year. No wonder NYPD made its presence known not only by its officers stationed along the barricades but also by the sporadic sounds of their choppers hovering over us.

Some pointers for those intending to participate in the parade:

  1. Be early. People usually start waiting around the fences at about 5.30pm for a good spot.
  2. Do your homework. Find out how you can join in the parade, be one of the puppeteers or even hunt the best spots to watch the show.
  3. Gather with friends. The company can make or break an event.

For anyone visiting New York City for exchange or travel reasons in the fall, I would definitely recommend packing an extra wig and face paint to prepare for wrath of New York trick or treaters as well as to join in the collective fun spirit that resides in the exuberance of the parade. This halloween experience would be inedibly etched in my mind.

For more information about the NYC Halloween Parade, click here.

Photos courtesy of Lauren Ong. Email Lauren at