10. The West Village helps put on the world’s largest Halloween parade
The West Village (and Greenwich Village more broadly) puts on the world’s largest Halloween parade, commonly called the Village Halloween Parade. The parade is going into its 50th year, having been founded in 1973 by puppeteer Ralph Lee. The parade, which now attracts over two million spectators and around 50,000 participants, started as a small puppet parade around the Westbeth Artists Community. The parade expanded to around 200 participants in 1974 when the parade went from Jane Street to Washington Square Park. It seemed with each year, the number of participants grew exponentially, as more nonprofits and theater organizations helped expand it. The LGBTQ+ community in the West Village was also instrumental in the parade’s growth.
The official route now runs on Sixth Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street, though for years, Westbeth was the starting point and Washington Square Park was the endpoint. Buildings like the Jefferson Market Library starting in the 1970s installed a giant spider, while a devil sat on the Washington Square Arch. As the routes changed and thousands more spectators joined each year, the parades began being broadcast, including just a few weeks after 9/11. Over the last two decades, some puppets and carnival figures were designed in support of fundraising efforts and social causes, such as funds to help the Haiti earthquake victims in 2010. In recent iterations, the parade has attracted over 50 marching bands, parade floats, and elaborate costumes.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Whitney Museum!