AS SUNSET APPROACHES on Halloween, the costumes take on a more R-rated look. Photo by Gordon Hughes.

By Gordon Hughes

It’s October and you begin to see a remarkable change in the West Village. It’s not just the weather. Yes, the trees begin to change color and hardy mums replace begonias on the stoops of the brownstones. But in addition, an amazing transformation begins around the third week of October; co-ops, brownstones, and old-fashioned tenement houses sprout a variety of building costumes in preparation for, you guessed it, Halloween.

Along with house dressings, certain streets have themes and that’s a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, Villagers get ready for the kids to knock on doors for an assortment of goodies just like kids do in other parts of the city and the suburbs. It’s cute as these little people, usually with parental supervision, hit the streets in fun costumes and gather candy; or if it’s a green home, vegies. It’s also a time for anyone over 21 to do a bit of “trick or drink.” That’s a lot of fun for grown-ups.

But something else is also in the air. Something big. Something that makes the West Village, once again, a unique and marvelous community. That something is the annual Halloween Day Parade. This year the 46th will take place. Now, as most of you who read my column know, I like to sit out on one of the benches at Panino Mucho Gusto Cafe with a cup of java and watch the scene of fellow Villagers going by. I have written about their perambulators, white-souled shoes, clothing styles, dogs, and a number of unique Village customs. Halloween, however, is really different because starting about 8:00 in the morning people are walking down Hudson Street already in costumes, already ready to revel for the evening. They are warming up for a night that will be like no other. (That’s not to steal anything away from any religious evenings.)

During the day, costumes are relatively tame—you know, costumes from Broadway musicals, movies, kids’ books, even grown-up tales, etc. As the day begins to turn into evening, however, the costumes take on what I will call a more mature look. And as sunset approaches costumes begin to take a more, shall I say, R-rated look. And later, well you get the picture.

Now, the highlight is on Sixth Avenue—or, as the chamber of commerce likes to call it, the Avenue of the Americas. (I never have taken that name seriously). This year the Halloween Parade will be held on Thursday, the 31st. What started as a small gathering which had to push its way into recognition, the parade has become an eagerly anticipated fun event. By the time it begins Panino is closed so I mosey over to 6th Avenue to take in the parade and then hit some of the goofy after-parties. All in all it makes October a fabulous month and prepares us for the holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and even the Super Bowl.

So, if you don’t live in the West Village this is a great excuse to visit this remarkable part of Manhattan and see it all—and I mean ALL.

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