Home Visual Arts A Visual Feast: the NYC Halloween Parade

A Visual Feast: the NYC Halloween Parade


Some favorite aspect of the parade, are the moments where the marchers interact with the children in the crowds, through high fives or shrill and surprising shrieks, including characters from Tim Burton’s The Night Before Christmas or zombies, of the man with a tiny gold mask who drove his motorized wheelchair along the crowded and occasionally stopping simply to stare. Or the zombie, complete with misaligned zombie eyes just stands by the crowed and stares ‘zombily’ out into it.

I know when someone is ‘too short to be a Stormtrooper’ (and there were more than a few pounding the pavement during the parade), and am thrilled to see the group of Jedi marchers with their glowing light sabers. I line up in front of the Jedi group to grab a shot of their sabers spinning and flailing, only to be disappointed at watching the group spend all of this time scowling at other marchers in their midst. I scramble to get out of their way, but not before grabbing a shot of the Jedi leader’s best Jedi death stare, along with some cool and colorful light saber images. When the Jedi are able to clear the non-Jedi marchers, the Jedi show us why they had spent so much time clearing us: they raise the sabers and shout “Jedi” before exiting the parade. It’s as lame as it sounds. My interference with the Jedi order, however, did not go unnoticed as I was soon thereafter accosted by a police officer and told to get off the parade route. Without having picked up my media credentials, there was no argument to be had. And I sure did not want to be taken off the way I had seen another woman get taken off: by six officers and a pair of wrist cuffs. Maybe getting tossed was for the best.

It’s the interface between the Halloween characters and regular NYC places and situations that I appreciate most about Halloween in NYC. The event is completely transformative of the people around the city, particularly their appearance, and I love to see these crazy creatures against the same old surroundings. I like photographing people taking pictures of other people; I love photographing a chicken taking a photograph other people.  I love to see costume heads popping up in the back seat of taxis, or talking on pay phones – for that matter, anyone on a payphone is a rarity these days (and yes, some of them still work).

On the F train I find Stewie Griffin lewdly resting his hand on Brian’s inner thigh and in the Times Square subway station where I find a very convincing papal figure (only the absence of Prada slippers belies this imposter). An impatient woman covered in makeup and a white shroud leans over the subway tracks to watch for the train. A man delicately kisses a woman on the subway, the Superman peering through his coat. There is a man whose costume is so obese, he must have inflated it after entering the subway station because there is not other way to get that through the turnstiles or gates!