Sandy Pulls the Plug on Village Halloween Parade

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By Sophia Rosenbaum The Village Halloween Parade, a 39-year tradition, is just another check on the list of Hurricane Sandy's victims, which includes the destruction of much of Atlantic City, Long Island, Downtown Manhattan and the New York City mass transit system. "For the first time in our 39 year history, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and the NYPD have CANCELLED the Parade," read the official website of the Village Halloween Parade, which was scheduled for Halloween night. Instead of intricate costumes and mobs of people taking over 6th Avenue in the Village, clean-up crews will be working to remove fallen trees and bring power back to the millions in the dark since Monday's super storm. Destruction around the metropolitan area evoked images of doomsday. A spooky coincidence, perhaps, but this year's Halloween parade featured an end-of-the-world theme: "Tick! Tock!," a poke at the Mayan calendar's prediction of the end of the world in 2012. Jeanne Fleming, the producing director of the parade, sent an email Tuesday evening to participants and media alerting them to the cancelation of the parade after Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it official on Tuesday afternoon. Fleming is working diligently to reschedule the parade, but said it is only possible if the organization's small budget allows for it. "It seems at the moment as if we cannot afford to do it a week later," she said. Meanwhile, Serra Hirsch, a puppeteer who has been active in the parade since 1994, remained hopeful Tuesday evening that the parade will be rescheduled sometime next week. Hirsch said the cancellation was a "huge bummer" for her, but said mass transit is crucial to the return of pre-Hurricane Sandy New York City. "We can't return to normal until the subway returns," she said. "The city is crippled with no subway, and the police, sanitation, and other services aren't really available to make the parade run smoothly and safely." Hirsch said she understands the decision to cancel the parade, as safety is an issue to begin with because people's costumes cause obstructed views, and drunk audience members sometimes become aggressive. "I don't think they had a choice," she said. "The light's are out still throughout the parade route. It's just not safe." Jennifer Weidenbaum, 34, has gone to the parade with Hirsch for five years and started working on her ski-costume in August. She attempted to get into the city Tuesday from her home in Jersey City, but said too many roads were closed. On her drive home, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief. "I was actually happy when I was listening to the radio in the car when they said the parade was cancelled," Weidenbaum said. "I don't want any of the city's resources to be directed towards a parade when there's so many other important things going on." Sunday afternoon, Hirsch was busy at work on her elaborate campfire costume scene of two girl scouts at a campfire roasting marshmallows with a bear lurking behind them. Hirsch's plan was to act as the head of one of the girls and said she planned on pretending she had no idea there was a bear behind her. While Hirsch is working on her costume at a much more relaxed pace now, she is still set to appear on Kelly and Michael's live Halloween show, which was moved to November 5 due to the storm. If she wins the costume contest, she could win a $10,000 gift card to Home Goods. Weidenbaum is still planning on celebrating Halloween this evening in her Jersey City neighborhood. Her costume of an Olympic skier racing down a mountain to the finish line is almost complete, and she plans to use it for next year's Halloweenparade in the West Village. "I'll have a leg up next year," she said. "I'll put it in storage."

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