The Urban Lens: A walk through the wild and wonderful Village Halloween Parade

Posted On Fri, October 28, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, October 28, 2016 By In Features, Greenwich Village, holidays, photography, The urban lens

6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return with a series of snapshots from last year’s debaucherous Village Halloween Parade. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Village Halloween Parade began as a “wandering neighborhood puppet show.” The event was a walk from house to house in Lee’s neighborhood, created for his children and their friends to enjoy. In the three years that followed, the parade took on new shapes and sizes, propelled first by George Bartenieff and Crystal Field of the Theater for the New City, who staged the production in its second year as part of their City in the Streets program; and then two years later when the parade became a non-profit with its own resources to put on a major show. By 1985, the parade morphed into an extravaganza that marched down Sixth Avenue, attracting 250,000 participants and onlookers. Today, the Village Halloween Parade is the largest celebration of its kind, considered by Festivals International to be “The Best Event in the World” for October 31st.

While the parade is now more spectacle than small-scale and community driven (as Ralph Lee wanted it to remain), there is no question that tens of thousands of costumed individuals can still find their place, and plenty of delight, in its latest incarnation.

As the current artistic and producing director, Jeanne Fleming, told us, “We make a Utopian society for a few hours when everyone can come together joyfully.”

In anticipation of the 2016 festivities—which will take place 7-11 pm on Monday, October 31st under the theme “reverie”—we share some of our favorite snapshots from last year’s affair, in addition to some fun facts about the parade.

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Owl. Crossing Canal Street, nearing 7pm, the sun has just set and crowds are gathering.

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james and karla murray storefrontJames and Karla Murray are husband-and-wife New York based professional photographers and authors. Their critically acclaimed books include Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, New York Nights, Store Front II- A History Preserved and Broken Windows-Graffiti NYC. The authors’ landmark 2008 book, Store Front, was cited in Bookforum’s Dec/Jan 2015 issue as one of the “Exemplary art books from the past two decades” and heralded as “One of the periods most successful New York books.” New York Nights was the winner of the prestigious New York Society Library’s 2012 New York City Book Award. James and Karla Murray’s work has been exhibited widely in major institutions and galleries, including solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Clic Gallery in New York City, and Fotogalerie Im Blauen Haus in Munich, Germany, and group shows at the New-York Historical Society and the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA. Their photographs are included in the permanent collections of major institutions, including the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the New York Public Library, and NYU Langone Medical Center. James and Karla were awarded the 2015 Regina Kellerman Award by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) in recognition of their significant contribution to the quality of life in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. James and Karla live in the East Village of Manhattan with their dog Hudson.

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Neighborhoods : Greenwich Village

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