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Giant 'Occupy Halloween' Puppets, Superheroes Coming to Village Parade

By Andrea Swalec | October 30, 2011 8:36am
Unemployed Man
Unemployed Man "fights for the rights of the unemployed, underemployed and creatively self-employed." He will march in the Village Halloween Parade on Oct. 31, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

BROOKLYN — This ought to give Wall Street a fright.

Occupy Wall Street protesters will march in the Village Halloween Parade Monday night carrying 12-foot-tall puppets, accompanied by a brigade of corporate greed-fighting superheroes

In a Friday night visit to the bustling "Occupy Halloween" workshop in DUMBO, Brooklyn, activists showed DNAinfo the puppets they have been building day and night since Thursday in preparation for the parade. 

A caped crusader who would identify himself only as Unemployed Man said protesters will debut the 12-foot-tall puppet the "Slot Bot" at the parade, which will start at 7 p.m. Monday on Sixth Avenue in SoHo and move north. 

The Slot Bot will be part slot machine, part robot and part casino, with the New York Stock Exchange building for a head and a vacuum arm that sucks up money, said Unemployed Man, who "fights for the rights of the unemployed, underemployed and creatively self-employed." 

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Halloween Parade Map 4
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Billy Figueroa

"[The Slot Bot] symbolizes how Wall Street has turned our basic human needs — health care, housing, people's life savings — into poker chips with which to gamble," the 37-year-old said. 

Occupy Halloween, a project of Occupy Wall Street's arts and culture working group, was also building a 40-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge puppet that will need to be carried by six people, said puppeteer Joe Therrien, 30. 

Oversized puppets of protesters will stand on the bridge, in reference to the more than 700 protesters who were arrested there on Oct. 2, he said. 

"We'll probably make the [protester] puppets be asking for handouts or smoking marijuana, to play up the stereotypes about us," Therrien added. 

The puppets are made of burlap, cardboard, newspaper, tape and hot glue, most of which individuals and organizations donated.

To symbolize the struggle between liberty and economic oppression, the group was also building a giant bull, which will battle the 12-foot "Lady Liberty" puppet that protesters used in Times Square and Washington Square Park, Therrien said. 

Therrian, an elementary school drama teacher with a master's degree in puppetry, said puppets are effective tools for activists.

"Puppets are a good way to communicate a message without taking yourself so seriously that no one wants to listen," he said. 

Unemployed Man said superhero outfits are a helpful way to communicate, too. 

"It's easier to start a conversation with humor," he said. "Everyone wants to know what you're fighting for or against." 

At least a dozen "working class superheroes" will march in the parade Monday, according to Captain Generica, 25, another member of their ranks. 

Jesse Bercowetz, 42, and Erin Riley, 25, worked Oct. 28, 2011 on a 40-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge puppet that will need to be carried by six people at the Oct. 31 Village Halloween Parade.
Jesse Bercowetz, 42, and Erin Riley, 25, worked Oct. 28, 2011 on a 40-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge puppet that will need to be carried by six people at the Oct. 31 Village Halloween Parade.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

Unemployed Man said the notion that Occupy Wall Street protesters have no specific demands is irrelevant. 

"It's not political changes that people are looking for. People are looking for a deep shift in our value system," he said. 

Superheroes will begin to battle "economic supervillains" at 10 a.m. Monday, according to the Occupy Halloween website. Their location has not been publicized. 

Organizers of the parade, which attracts as many as 2 million people and is broadcast live on local television, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Occupy Halloween.