The Scene: Finally, you can thank Congress for something. This year, the Feds have extended daylight saving time by a month, allowing New York’s annual Halloween parade to begin at twilight for the first time ever. The extra hour of sunlight will help illuminate this year’s theme, “Wings of Desire,” which was inspired by creatures—from bats to birds to mutant crime-fighters—that come out as the sun sets. The parade’s master puppeteer Alex Kahn hopes to evoke “mankind’s evolving journey into the skies” by lofting a flock of “Superior Concept Monsters”—a.k.a. really cool puppets—above the streets of the Village.
The Grand Marshal: Shuler Henley, the star of Mel Brooks’s new Broadway musical Young Frankenstein, presides over the ceremonies atop his very own Franken-float. The actor will be scanning the crowd for the city’s best Frankenstein monster, who will bag show tickets and a pass to the play’s opening party.
The Must-See Performance: Parade sponsor Zappos.com offers its own take on this year’s theme with a “Winged Shoes” performance featuring Balkan circle-dancing music, flying puppeteers, and 55 other dancers. Look for the spectacular in-air act at the front of the parade.
The Costumes and the Contest: Just like last year, participants will be secretly photographed by Jeanne Fleming, the parade’s artistic director, and her posse of planners, who will then convene, pick their favorite costumes, and award prizes, including $500 to Zappos.com, tickets to Broadway shows, and other Halloween-themed gifts. Don’t think you can revive last year’s Borat costume, though. One of last year’s prizes went to the MetroCard Wedding: an entire wedding party (from bridegroom to flower girl) costumed with discarded subway tickets. For a chance at a bigger reward, head to Webster Hall after the parade for that venue’s annual after-party. Last year’s winner, an impressively accurate Donkey Kong, walked away with the $5,000 prize.
The Crowd: About 2 million spectators (one-fourth of the city’s total population), 4 million television viewers (tuning in to NY1), and 60,000 participants are expected. Organizers say the parade is the world's largest public Halloween celebration. Arriving early is essential, especially at popular lookout points such as the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 4th Street. Pedestrians will be allowed to cross Sixth Avenue at both Houston and 14th Streets. For less congestion and better views, head north. Contact the Department of Transportation at 212-442-1700 for more info on street closings.
Quick Tip: For a better view after dark, make your way to 17th Street, where Perrier will be handing out water and providing overhead lighting for the passing parade.