During this year's visit to New York (which I refer to as my boyfriend) over the past few days, I experienced a reality check in our relationship. It was the first time that New York had showed me anything but love and affection, so it was an upsetting end to an otherwise wonderful visit.
I usually schedule my trip to coincide with the Autumn edition of the Manhattan Vintage Show, but this year, I decided to go a week later so that I could be in New York for Halloween to experience one of the traditions that has always fascinated me - The Village Halloween Parade. After all, Lou Reed wrote a song about the parade (which appeared on his "New York" album). The parade was started in 1974 by a Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer, Ralph Lee. From its humble origins as a walk from house to house in Lee's neighbourhood, the parade has grown to become the largest celebration of its kind, and has received many awards and grants from the city. It is estimated that about 2 million people turn out to watch the parade, and just once, I wanted to be one of those 2 million. I had no idea what I was in for.
I met a friend at 6 pm so we could stake out a good viewing spot on 6th Avenue for the parade, which started at 7 pm. We were right on the corner of 6th Avenue and 15th Street, and the block wasn't as busy as those further south on the parade route. There were so many police officers around that the atmosphere felt kind of tense, and an officer approached us and declared the parade did not come up this far on 6th, and we had to move further south. I knew that the parade did, in fact, go at least a couple of blocks past where we were, which had been confirmed by another officer we had spoken to earlier, but how does one argue with a member of the NYPD in full body armour? We were forced to head south only find ourselves engulfed by crowds of people. We finally found a tiny space to squeeze into, and waited for the parade to start.
The view we almost had...until the police removed the blue tape you see in the photo
Close to 8:00 pm we could see giant skeleton puppets approaching, and at that moment, the police opened a barricade on the side street in front of us, allowing a crowd of people to surge forward, and and completely block our view of the parade route. We stood there speechless for a few minutes, and sadly, decided I was not meant to see the parade after all.
The view we had. I was able to get this photo by holding my camera up above my head
At that point all we wanted to do was go home, so as my friend headed off towards 5th Avenue, I started to squeeze my way back up 6th Avenue towards 15th Street. The first block was challenging, but then in the next I hit a wall of people on a corner, and there was no space to pass, go around, or go back. A crowd of people had built up behind me and were pushing to get through, and at that moment I thought "this is how people get knocked down and trampled". A woman with two small children were squished against me, and she and I were both starting to get frightened. When it finally became clear no one was going to move in front of us, and people were not going to stop pushing from behind, I started to get angry, and use my elbows to push people aside. When we were finally made it around the corner and were on a clear patch of sidewalk, the women with the children thanked me for getting them through. I stopped a police officer to let them know there was clearly a dangerous situation at that corner. Her response? "That does sound scary." Did she do anything? No.
This was the only costume I managed to photograph. I have no idea what he was, but I loved the suit
I headed east a block and then went to double back to my corner when I was halted by a wooden barricade across 5th and 15 Street, and another police officer who informed me that unless I had ID with my address on it proving I lived on that street, I wasn't going anywhere. It was bad enough I hadn't even been able to see the parade, and was almost knocked over by a crowd, and now, I was told I couldn't go home. I could feel tears of frustration starting to well in the corners of my eyes as I patiently tried to explain my situation, and I think the officer must have sensed a full blown breakdown was coming, as he pushed the barricade aside and let me pass. As I reached the apartment, I couldn't help but notice that there were people lined up watching the parade in the exact spot on 6th Avenue and 15th Street where we had originally been standing, when the officer had told us "the parade doesn't come this far".
New York, I still love you, but at that moment, I didn't like you very much at all. It was unfortunate this all happened on the last night of my trip, as it affected my feelings about the trip as a whole, even though the rest of it was great fun. And my next post will be about the fun, I promise.