While there’s a lot to be said for the quintessential New York City experience of going trick-or-treating in your apartment building – the climate is always temperate, no Princess costumes dragging on the muddy ground, you have a vague idea of who your neighbors are (or, at least, where they live, should a problem come up), and there is a heck of a lot less trudging up and down the street for Mom and Dad – growing up in the urban jungle shouldn’t keep an adventurous clan from experiencing suburban-style Halloween glory, even if only once in your life.
To whit, we’ve made a list of NYC neighborhoods that go all out for Halloween, offering the exertion, stair-climbing, crowds, and spooky décor of suburbia, right in the middle of the Naked City.
Upper West Side
Kick off your evening (in the afternoon) at 3:45 pm by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on West 89th Street and Riverside Drive for a kiddie costume parade that winds it’s way up to Hippo Playground at 91st Street, with donuts and apple cider distributed to all (on the off chance that there might not be ample sugar running through your little goblin’s veins by the end of the night).
Thus fortified, turn right and head for West 90th Street, where the Block Association closes the stretch between Columbus and Central Park West for their annual party, complete with candy, haunted house, Michael Jackson’s Thriller blasting from the open windows, and, last year, even a fully costumed Darth Vader who gleefully took on all challengers with his lightsaber – from wannabe Luke Skywalkers to Three Musketeers!
Then, if you make it out alive, head north for the West 95th Street Block Association’s own party. With brownstones up and down both sides of the street, kids really get a workout charging up steps and ringing doorbells. While parents can stay on the sidewalk and observe from a distance. Highlights here include a huge blow-up witch stirring her mysterious cauldron, and severed hands jumping out of candy dishes.
West 69th Street from Central Park West to Broadway attempts to keep their annual celebration quiet but their reputation precedes them, and the place is usually a madhouse of fun. Neighbors are encouraged to form groups to really go all out with the decorations but, as a result of their word-of-mouth popularity, they stop handing out candy at 7:00 pm, to keep the rowdier teens away.
Meanwhile, across the park on East 74th Street, the Lasry family single-handedly seeks to make the holidays extra spooky for trick-or treaters by, starting on October 1, decking out their home with the creepiest ghouls, goblins, and singing pirates available. The Lasrys are so into the holiday spirit, that they don’t mind if you ring their doorbell first thing on Halloween morning. So take our tip and beat the crowds.
The Mount Morris Park Community, stretching roughly from West 119th to West 124th Streets from Fifth Avenue to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, encourages all local residents to get in on the fun and give their kids an old-fashioned Halloween celebration to remember. Everyone is welcome and the Block Association even has an online form where houses who want to participate can sign up. The list is then distributed to trick-or-treaters. This is New York. Efficiency is key.
Think the traditional Greenwich Village Halloween Parade might be too much for your little ones? Or maybe you think they’ll be fine, but you really don’t want to answer those particular questions at this particular time? Rest easy. Prior to the spectacular main event (which should definitely be on your To Do List at some point down the child-rearing road), there is a junior version in Washington Square Park earlier in the day that includes candy, face-painting, rides and live entertainment (and, if the weather is nice, a comparable amount of nudity). Though specifics haven’t been released yet for 2012, the 2011 information is pretty similar and should help with making plans in advance.
For more of that classic “neighborhood” trick or treating, visit Brooklyn Heights, and particularly Montague street and surroundings. We’ve hear rumors of Garden Place being blocked off for Halloween as well. The houses are festively decorated with ghosts, coffins, spiders, and brightly lit jack o’ lanterns. This neighborhood does get crowded, so try and visit early if you want candy. For a less crowded block, head to Remsen and Joralemon–another great residential part of town.
Anyone who comes to Park Slope on Halloween can’t miss the parade. The parade starts at 6:30 pm, on 7th Avenue and 14th Street. The parade goes up 7th and ends at Washington Park. Hit up the 7th Avenue strip and surrounding homes before the parade and then march alongside other witches and wizards for the parade with your candy haul in tow.
Upper East Side – Maybe
The biggest question mark of this Halloween season is 119 E. 78th Street. What began as a labor of love by one family soon grew into an entire block that, for close to four decades, was known as the prime neighborhood route for scoring treats. Up to 3,000 children a year would pack in between Park and Lexington Avenues in order to be part of the fun (Third Avenue and up to Madison were eventually included, as well). While townhouses indulged in decorations and personal service, even the surrounding apartment buildings where kids weren’t allowed to enter the complex would chip in for bags of candy that their doormen would hand out in order to still be a part of the legendary experience. Unfortunately, last year, Teri Slater, the woman who started it all back in the 1970s, announced that she was moving and would not be around in 2012. Will the show go on without her?
What are your choice blocks for trick-or-treating? Share with us in the comment section below.
— Alina Adams