Village Halloween Parade returns Friday, but the Tompkins Square Dog Costume Parade was Saturday (pics)
photos by Mimi Hong
Halloween is here again, and that means NYC’s best parade. Grand Marshall Whoopi Goldberg will lead “hundreds of PUPPETS, 53 BANDS of Different Types of Music, DANCERS and ARTISTS, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world!” The theme this year is “The Garden of Earthly Delights!”:
Although one often associates Halloween with things Infernal, this year’s Halloween Parade is headed to Paradise, or more specifically the Garden of Earthly Delights. Join us as we unearth the layers of Heironymous Bosch’s timeless altarpiece, exploring the precarious borderland Garden between the primeval terrors of wilderness and the modern confines of civility.Is there an oasis, a point of respite between the ravaging wilds of nature and stifling constrictions of urban life? A garden is above all, a place of precarious balance – just enough nature to tie us to our primeval roots, yet not so much we might lose our way and fall prey to the dangers that lurk in the wilderness. It is a narrow borderland of green where one might be of nature without being fully in it. The great gardens of Europe often featured mazes of hedgerows, where visitors could experience the vicarious terror of becoming lost (literally “bewildered”) while taking comfort from the confines of civilization that encircled them.
The beginning of humankind’s transition to sedentary farming coincides with a mythological obsession with the Garden, as the dangerous uncertainty of our hunter-gatherer past gave way to ordered paths, sheltering walls, and sustaining bounties. The Tree of Life and the fruits of immortality are never found in the forest, jungle, or savannah, but rather in a cultivated Garden – whether Golden Apples tended by the Hesperides of the Greeks, or the Jade Emperor’s Peaches of Immortality pilfered by Monkey King of Chinese Myth, or the Biblical Garden of Eden whose fruits bring knowledge even as they harken the end of innocence. Like Borges’ Garden of the Forking Paths, it is a place of infinite possibilities and permutations contained within a finite and intimate space. Gardens are also places of forbidden delights and forgotten joys hidden away behind ivied walls and locked gates. The Secret Gardens of Hans Christian Andersen and Frances Hodgson Burnett remind us that the Garden evokes a return to childhood’s fearless and ephemeral embrace of the world.
The New York Village Halloween Parade has always been a secret garden of sorts, a place where, for 40 years, wildness of a very rare variety has flourished within the high walls of New York’s avenues. Halloween being a night of inversions, our “garden” is not a safe place where the “wild” is kept out; it is a safe place where the wildness of imagination is invited in! Just as Frederick Law Olmsted’s ramble in Central Park cultivates the liberating thrill of bewilderment amidst its twisting paths, paraders know they will be safe within the procession.
This year Parade puppeteers will sow the seeds of a verdant Garden, turning 6th Avenue into a greenway of surging shoots, unfurling blossoms, and tempting fruits dangling low from the animated boughs of a giant Tree of Life. All are invited to our workshops to help bring our not-so-secret, world-famous “garden” to life and celebrate our oasis of wildness that in the end (as Olmsted said) is what truly civilizes us.
MEANWHILE, the dog Halloween parade happened in Tompkins Square Park on Saturday, and BrooklynVegan photographer Mimi Hong stopped by before she got to our CMJ showcase. Her constumed dog pictures continue below…