The scare is over for the annual New York City Village Halloween Parade, which needed to raise $50,000 by Monday to make up for last year’s cancellation following Superstorm Sandy. According to parade organizers, thanks to support from fans' donations, the 40th anniversary parade will happen on October 31.
The parade, which is attended by more than two million people plus 60,000 participants, was cancelled last year for the first time in its 39-year history, leaving parade goers upset and this year's celebration down more than $50,000 in operational costs.
But on Thursday, just under four days ahead of its deadline, the parade reached its goal on Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding website for organizations to raise money, amassing just over its target.
The International Business Times spoke with Artistic and Producing Director of the Village Halloween Parade Jeanne Fleming early on Thursday, who was in good spirits – and not the spooky kind – well before the goal was even reached. Still, she was more than optimistic the show would go on as planned, thanks to donations from more than 800 backers and even one famous donor’s offer, New York-based fashion designer Kenneth Cole.
“I hope so,” she said when asked if the Halloween Parade will happen. “You actually caught me in a moment I went from thinking one thing to thinking another…so I really do believe it.” Later on Thursday, Fleming confirmed that the goal was indeed reached and “the parade is definitely happening.”
Following Superstorm Sandy last year, the second-costliest U.S. hurricane which shut down nearly half of Manhattan six days before Halloween, the 2012 parade was up in the air.
“We were so ready for the parade last year,” Fleming said. “I can’t remember a time that we were so ready. It was going to be a fabulous parade.”
But just mere hours before the parade was scheduled to begin, the yearly tradition was cancelled as southern Manhattan, where the parade marches, was still without power and there was great concern about safety.
“We were worried about the winds and things falling on people,” she said. “We couldn’t even get in touch with anyone to find out if the parade could still happen.”
Fleming said the parade was supposed to be rescheduled but “that didn’t happen.” Nor did any fundraising for this year’s parade happen.
“We lost all the income that we normally get on Halloween night,” she said of the organization’s financial woes. “We had to give back money that we didn’t expect to have to give back. On top of that, we’ve had to credit people forward this year and be kind to the people have been kind to us.”
Fleming said many sponsors asked for insurance or their money back because of last year’s cancellation, so the 2013 parade has been in jeopardy. To make up for the funding shortfall, organizers started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $50,000 needed for operation costs – security, insurance, fees and materials for puppets – for the Halloween parade in the hopes fans would come out of the woodwork.
“Millions of people come to the parade,” Fleming said. “There are 60,000 people in it. If everybody just gave what they pay to go to the movies one night.”
And they did.
On Thursday morning, the Kickstarter account had raised just over $47,000 from about 800 supporters, with more soon to follow. While on the phone with IBTimes, Fleming said designer Kenneth Cole offered to top off donations, as well as some other sponsors, but she wanted the general public to save the parade and not have one company take all of the credit.
By the time Fleming had ended her interview with IBTimes shortly later, fundraising efforts were surpassed thanks to loyal supporters. By close of business day on Thursday, with three days left on the campaign, more than 840 backers donated $50,598 to reach the goal.
“I woke up this morning and instead of thinking about all the people who didn’t give us money, I started to realize my tribe is gathering,” she said, thankful that everyone pitched in. “We’re getting to find out for the first time who the people are who really care about the parade. We can’t find that out on Halloween night. I ask people who they are on Halloween night and they say, ‘Can’t you see? I’m the great pumpkin!’ I could never find out who anyone is!”
For New York, the annual Village Halloween Parade is more than an event to parade the streets in costume. As documented on the website, the parade has both survived and offered solace for New Yorkers after national devastating events. In 2001, it was the first major event after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. In 2005 and 2010, respectively, the NYC Halloween parade brought joy after Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake. And according to Fleming, joy is what will happen on October 31 on the streets of Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood after the “Frankenstorm” cancelled the parade. And perhaps, even more so now that the community has come together following the Superstorm Sandy disaster.
“The Halloween parade is really important for the New York community. It gives everyone a sense of spirit,” she said. “Seeing that much joy on the streets of New York City; You don’t see anybody unhappy. And this is a parade where it doesn’t have any ethnicity, it doesn’t have any gender. It’s not the gay Pride parade or the Jewish parade or the Puerto Rican parade. It’s not a political parade. Everybody who’s there is there because they want to be. They’re just there to enjoy each other… in their imaginative world.”
The 2013 Village Halloween Parade will kick off in New York City (on 6th Avenue between Spring Street and Broome Street) beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 31.
Check IBTimes.com for updates about the parade including an exclusive story about this year’s lineup, a handy parade route map and everything else you need to know for the annual West Village tradition.