By: Lourdes Garcia
As I walked downtown with my sister, we made sure to walk through Greenwich Village and say hello to Zohra, a giant white spider that descends on Jefferson Market every Halloween. Usually, she dangles over crowds of people dressed up and exhilarated to celebrate Halloween in New York City, but this year was different.
When Covid-19 spread around the world back in March, New York City received national attention after scathing articles stated that the city would never recover from the shutdown and migration. But now, the city has reopened with new guidelines that limit large gatherings. Streets are decorated with fairy lights that provide lighting for outdoor dining and are filled with lines as people wait six feet apart to enter a store.
Despite many events being canceled, New York City, like any other year, welcomed the fall season and Halloween eagerly. Walking down Fifth Avenue and through the Villages reminded me of past Halloweens and was a reminder that in NYC, Halloween is a holiday for anyone. Storefronts were decorated with images of dancing skeletons, ghosts, and mannequins wearing witch hats and holding brooms. In Midtown, Rockefeller Center welcomed me and everyone else with small squash patches filled with pumpkins of all sizes. All throughout the city, pumpkin patches could be found, serving as a constant reminder of what was to come on October 31st. Small ones found downtown in Pier 17 and Chelsea Market demanded a photo shoot and more traditional big ones such as Pumpkin Point on Governor’s Island called for children and families to go pumpkin picking.
The residents of the Upper East Side also made use of their old townhouses to fill the city with the Halloween spirit. Stairs and window sills were filled to the brim with carved pumpkins and skeletons. Giant spiderwebs strung on the stairs would beckon you to look up and spot the giant plastic spiders crawling over the buildings. Townhouses were lit up at night, causing the figures to cast eerie shadows calling for passersby to take a look. Other apartments were turned into haunted houses, with figures abruptly jerking and producing screams that echoed down the street.
On Halloween, the city went out to play. There were fewer trick-or-treaters, but children still went out dressed as princesses, superheroes, and Clorox wipes. Some adults wore elaborate face masks with designs of smiling clowns and bloody teeth. Others, like me, simply donned witch hats and Halloween themed headbands. Drag Queens graced the streets with their high heels and once again proved that they dominated Halloween. Children were cooed over as they screamed and gasped at the most shocking costumes. And those who went dressed as hand sanitizer or sanitation wipes were praised and laughed over.
As Halloween night ended, the colorful flowers and papers placed alongside Halloween decorations received more attention as dawn arose on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Candles were lit all throughout the streets of Jackson Heights and Harlem, which were decorated with skulls with flowers and colorful fliers that filled the streets as Latinx residents paid their respects to the dead. Down in Bowery, the gates of St. Mark’s Church burst into an explosion of color as the names of the dead were written.
There is no such thing as ‘less is more’ for Halloween in New York City. New Yorkers have always been extremely generous with Halloween, whether it be giving away full-size sundaes to trick-or-treaters or hosting a massive Halloween parade. Things have certainly changed this year due to the pandemic, but New Yorkers adapt and still know how to go out and play while being safe. 2020 has been pretty spooky, but NYC didn’t let that stop its love for Halloween.
About the Writer: Lourdes Garcia is a sophomore (Cornell ’23) studying History and Biological Sciences. Her dream is to one day visit all the major cities of China via bullet trains.
About Guac: Guac is an award-winning travel publication run by an interdisciplinary group of students at Cornell University. We aim to inspire our readers to celebrate cultural diversity and view the world with an open mind through delivering unique stories from people around the world.
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