In 1973, Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee staged a house-to-house puppet show to entertain his neighbors, children and friends. Thirty-three years later, Lee’s show has evolved into the nation’s largest public Halloween celebration.
This year more than two million people lined Sixth Avenue to watch the Village Halloween Parade while another four million watched a live broadcast on local TV station NY1. Many of the people standing behind the barriers watching were as elaborately costumed as those who were marching, dancing and riding up the street.
Hometown boys (well, at least they are former New Yorkers) Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss served as the Grand Marshals of the four hour event which included elaborate floats, choreographed dancers, dozens of marching bands, hundreds of puppets and more than 50,000 costumed marchers.
The sheer numbers make the event sound overwhelming but (unlike many other Halloween celebrations) the Village Halloween Parade isn’t raucous or rowdy; it remains a good-natured, friendly outdoor party for vampires, zombies, superheroes and kids of all ages.