Village Halloween Parade Faces Obstacles in Comeback

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:03

After its first cancellation in a three-decade history last year, the parade is struggling to find enough money to raise itself from the dead

The Village Halloween Parade has had quite the rough year. Last year, hurricane Sandy left the costumes, floats, and music inoperable. This year, organizers have been forced to turn to Internet crowd funding in hopes of keeping the event going.

Sandy left the parade in dire need of donations and funding, which left its organizers in a state of limbo. Jeanne Fleming, the parade's head coordinator for the past 33 years, is optimistic the event will come together for this year's Halloween. "We hope so," she said.

Because of the unintended shutdown of the parade last year, the event coordinators have had to try and recoup the losses suffered.

The parade committee turned to the popular crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter, which helps artists fund their creative pursuits through public monetary pledges.

The Kickstarter campaign, which began on September 16, has been slowly making its way to the $50,000 green-light goal. If the full amount isn't pledged by a October 21 deadline, the parade won't get any of the funds.

Fleming said that compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who have attended and enthusiastically supported the parade over the decades, "the Kickstarter response has been lukewarm." As of press time, the campaign had raised $41,975 from 732 backers, and five days left.

The $50,000 collected this year will go to investment insurance for the businesses and individuals who donated last year but did not get a parade.

Before this new digital venture, support for the parade came in the form of sponsorship from companies, businesses and TV licenses, as well as from grassroots-level funding such as children selling cookies or restaurants donating food.

Recently, the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, which represents small businesses in the downtown area, announced that the Rudin Family Foundations and the Association for a Better New York will give a $15,000 matching fund if the parade raises an equal amount within a week, giving a significant relief to the parade organizers and all those who have been on the fence about the parade's comeback.

The committee that organizes the parade is made up of a small group of individuals who oversee sponsorships, donations, and word of mouth advertising. Most have been working for the parade for a substantial number of years.

Matthew Fass, the music director of the parade for eight years, said he has "lots of faith that it's going to happen," with regards to the potential success of the Kickstarter campaign and the re-opening of the parade.

The community response for the parade has been largely positive. But as expected with large events in such a compact area of the city, inconveniences do arise.

Janelle Richards, who used to work at the Tri-Rite Deli on West 4th Street and 6th Avenue, said that "for two years, I had to walk from 14th Street down" to her job because the public transportation was not as efficient during the event.

Lareina Phelan, a local actress, said "I don't see myself going back" on account of the hectic crowd, but she said she loved the experience of attending.

Other community responses reflected a similar ambivalence. Kata Verma of Fabulous Boutique Inc. on Macdougal Street believes the parade is "fun" and "brings more business" but that "sometimes it's very noisy."

"The parade came from a 60s grassroots mentality," said Fleming, of creating something which gives back and that everyone can enjoy.

Zoe Edelmin, 18, of Washington Square West believes the parade to be "crucial in bringing together the neighborhood."

With just a little over a week to raise a little under $10,000, the costumed ghouls and goblins that have rambled through the streets yearly will have to stay put just little longer to know whether they could continue their spectacle this year.