Halloween in NYC — It’s Costume Time!

When I was a child I loved Halloween costumes so much that I turned my January birthday parties into a second yearly opportunity to dress up with themed costume parties for years & years in a row. I think my best was the time travel party. I was 10, or maybe 11, and made a “suit of armor” from aluminum foil. I repeated that theme — but not that costume — one of Halloween after college. That time, I was a barefoot, medieval troubadour with flowers in my hair — the perfect clothes for meeting a gorgeous Viking. (But since this is a Halloween costume post and not a romantic reminiscence, I’ll skip the rest of that story.)

I live in a part of New York City that can be described as HALLOWEEN CENTRAL. The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade began as a bit of local fun in 1974 and is now a huge annual extravaganza. You don’t have to march in it, or even watch from the sidelines as it goes by, to experience the intensity of costume mania in this part of the city — Chelsea, Union Square, the East & West Village are dressed up to scare, intrigue, inspire and sometimes to annoy everyone on the street and in the bars, cafes, shops and clubs.

The super in my building bears a striking resemblance to the young Fidel Castro and for many years he wore a Castro costume to great acclaim — including photos in the New York Post. Of course his appearance at my party one year took a turn for the dark side when a Cuban-American friend nearly fainted. I’d met her in a dance class and didn’t know her back-story (one worthy of a novel).

Creating a costume I can dance in has become my principle Halloween challenge. (I’m already known in my building for leaving a basket of high-quality treats hanging on my apartment door.) I will admit that the multiple legs of my spider woman (made of black satin, full-length gloves stuffed with paper and attached to the back of my spider-web, lace dress) made dancing Tango a little too difficult — there was no place for my partner to put his arm around me. LOL!

That, and the frantic shedding of bits & pieces of my cat costume during a Zumba class at the gym, has convinced me to only wear dance-centric costumes. Last year, I was the Bride of Frankenstein. I wove two stripes of white, curly ribbon through my naturally curly hair and took it from there. It was more conceptual than a replication of the wonderful Elsa Lanchester in her 1935 title role.

This year? I’m still not sure. But looking around this neighborhood I’m bound to be inspired. Creativity reigns and even if it rains on Halloween, nothing short of the Hurricane Sandy, has put a stop to Halloween in NYC — not even in October 2001 when the city needed to feel the familiar craziness of our local tradition. It’s costume time in the city!

Here’s a link to the history of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade:


This post is part of the ParaYourNormal Hoodoo Halloween Blog Party!



    • Candy Korman

      It really is an intense and wild/wonderful night. A friend from Argentina told me today that he insisted on going to the Village on his first Halloween in NYC to see the parade and soon discovered what I, as a local, know so well — the parade is more fun as it spills out into the side streets and interacts with the real world. The energy is heightened and the scary fun is real!

  1. Candy:

    It sounds like so much fun! I totally want to go! SF does some wild Halloween stuff (lately a little too wild for me). But my best Halloween costume memory was when I was a kid, and got lost in the neighboring “wealthy” part of town. It’s one of those places that shuns sidewalks, because only little people walk. Instead, there’s lots of long driveways and big, creepy oak trees, and very little lighting. It was like trick-or-treating through the forest in Hansel and Gretel.


    • Candy Korman

      Wow! A Hansel & Gretel trip through modern America! Sounds like a great opening for a scary movie.

  2. Love the mental images of the dancing spider! That could make it very difficult for your partner to figure out which hand to grab, lol!

    • Candy Korman

      Yes! It was such a hassle. I may do Medusa this year — no snakes on my back, just in my hair. LOL… I want a Tango partner to embrace me without any problems. LOL… no fun if your partner has to lead by telekentic communications!

    • Candy Korman

      I have invites to both a Tango Halloween and a Tango Noche de los Muertes Party. Do I go to both? Maybe.

      Dance-able costumes are so much more comfortable so, I’m aiming in that direction this year. Nothing that makes it hard to move!

      • I love the spider costume. If your partner could get a grip, it would probably look like you were eating him. 🙂

        For danceable, how about a gypsy?

        • Candy Korman

          Excellent idea. A gypsy fortune teller …. ummm. thinking, thinking thinking…. I was headed toward Medusa, but… We’ll see what I find in my closet.

  3. Medusa sounds a certainty to allow you to dance but be careful the swaying snakes don’t hypnotise your dance partner.
    I think it’s great that the parade has been established to give your area an identity that brings such joy to locals and visitors alike.
    Have a Great Time.
    xxx A Million Hugs xxx

    • Candy Korman

      LOL! I don’t think Greenwich Village needed the parade to get an identity. It’s more the icing on the cake of many, wacky histories and identities. This is a part of the city with a long, long history from Henry James to Bob Dylan to Sid Vicious and Alec Baldwin. CBGBs, The Village Gate, The Bottomline, The Stonewall Inn… Art Movie Houses, New York University, Micheline Restaurants and down & dirty cafes. The parade is a consequence more than a cause.

      Medusa is really good… provided I don’t get my hair (aka snakes) in his face.

  4. I agree. Having a costume you can move around in or dance in is crucial. I once dressed up as Medusa, which was really fun and my headdress had snakes that moved, but it was wobbly with the weight of it and I couldn’t really dance for that reason. Learned my lesson.

    • Candy Korman

      I will keep that in mind if I go with the Medusa idea. Can’t dance if my head is falling off — unless I’m a headless horse-woman?