New York's Village Halloween Parade is an annual holiday parade and street pageant presented the night of every Halloween (October 31) in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Stretching more than a mile, this cultural event draws two million spectators, fifty thousand costumed participants, dancers, artists and circus performers, dozens of floats bearing live bands and other musical and performing acts, and a world-wide television audience of one hundred million.
Among the parade's signature features are its pageant sized puppets - giant rod puppets "articulated" by teams of puppeteers - and its open participation to anyone in a costume who wishes to march. It is the largest public Halloween event in the United States, and the country's only major night parade. It has been called "New York's Carnival." Although the parade is currently not as informal and wild as it was in its earliest years, it is in effect still an alternative festival.
The parade has been featured in many national magazines and travel guides, and has been a subject of study by leading cultural anthropologists. According to The New York Times, "the Halloween Parade is the best entertainment the people of this City ever give the people of this City." "Absolutely anything goes," says USA Today. "Be prepared to drop your jaw."
Each year, a parade theme is selected by Fleming and VHP official puppet artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles as the basis for an anchoring performance at the head of the parade, and as a suggestion to inspire individual marchers throughout its course. The theme draws upon extensive research into the symbolic language and meanings underlying celebrations and rituals. The notion of Halloween as a night of transformation is often reflected in the themes, as well as ideas of self-expression and community.