Sunday, October 31, 2010

New York's Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

As much as I traveled to New York during my Air Marshal days, I never got a chance to actually see live what has become a Halloween tradition, the Village Halloween Parade.

It was founded in 1974 by Ralph Lee, with assistance from George Bartenieff and Crystal Field of the Theater of New York and coordinated by the trio for its first two years.

The spectacle of people in over 100 masks, street performers, giant puppets and others winding their way through the narrow streets of the Greenwich Village neighborhood from West Street to Washington Square not only took the neighborhood by surprise, but many people joined in the festivities.

The open participation to anyone in a costume who wishes to march has helped it grow to become a wildly popular event in New York to the point where a non profit corporation was formed in 1976 to help coordinate it
Even after the 9-11 terror attack, when events were being canceled all over the city, this parade was one of the few events held in New York during that time period at the insistence of then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and actually gave birth to another tradition, the Dancing Skeletons puppets that lead the parade.  

It was even used a a rallying point in 2005 for New Orleans Katrina evacuees staying in the area.   That parade featured a New Orleans style jazz funeral, secondliners, the Rebirth Jazz Band and lanterns depicting New Orleans landmarks and the Magnolia housing project in the Ninth Ward.

So what will the theme be this year?    You'll have to tune in to find out.


Finnie's Halloween Balls

One of the things I was fascinated to discover when I started perusing the digital copies of EBONY and JET magazines that are now online thanks to Google's deal with Johnson Publishing Company was that they covered the Finnie's Halloween drag ball in Chicago and another affair at the Rockland Palace in New York.

Finnie's Ball got its start in 1935, and quickly became a must attend event for gay and straight South Side denizens.   It blew up to the point that it was attended by thousands of people and was featured in a 1952 EBONY magazine article on it and a similar event in New York.

Through the 50's, 60's and 70's if you peruse the issues of JET published in November it was almost a given that pictures of the drag kings and queens from the Finnie's Ball would be appearing on its pages.

Alfred Finnie didn't live long enough to see the ball he started grow to become the elaborate must attend Halloween event it did and garner the media coverage it did for decades.   

But seeing these pictures of Halloweens past is making me wonder if they will be having any type of ball on the South Side tonight? 

TransGriot Halloween Posts

Happy Halloween, People!

I'm back home for my first Halloween in a decade, but it also means that for the first time in nine years I'm going to miss all the fun on Hillcrest Avenue in Louisville.

In addition to scarfing up mass quantities of candy and wearing spooktacular costumes, Halloween has the rep in the GLBT community as the TBLG national holiday.

The ballroom community can trace its roots to the elaborate Harlem Renaissance era drag balls held in New York.  They used to do a big one on Halloween.   Chicago's ballroom community has its South Side roots in the Finnie's Ball that was held on Halloween night starting in 1935. 

It's the one day on the calendar when a cisgender male can put on a dress and people won't bat an eyelash at him.  Let that same cisgender male do it on the other 364 days on the calendar and suddenly it's a problem.

I've written a few Halloween themed posts on the blog, and though I'd give y'all a chance to peruse them. 

Halloween-The Transgender National Holiday

What Are You Wearing For Halloween?

Nightmare On Hillcrest Avenue

New York's Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

Finnie's Halloween Balls

Warning: Frighten Black Peeps During Halloween At Your Own Risk

I Want Candy (Corn)

Not Feeling Halloween

Pat Robertson And CBN Friends Are Tripping Again