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Village Halloween Parade Needs $50K to Recover from Hurricane Sandy

By Andrea Swalec | August 8, 2013 8:57am
 The streets of Greenwich Village filled with spooky costumes during the 2011 Village Halloween Parade. The 2012 parade was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Village Halloween Parade
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MANHATTAN — The city's largest and most legendary Halloween party may not be as spooky this year if organizers can't pull in more cash.

Organizers of the 40th annual Village Halloween parade say they must raise at least $50,000 to make up for the financial hit they took when Hurricane Sandy forced the parade to be canceled at the last minute last year — or else scale back the number of puppets and bands at this year's festivities.

"You can't do an event of this scale in New York City without any money," the parade's artistic director Jeanne Fleming said Wednesday. "We all do this for the love of New York — now we need New York to show the love."

Last year, the Office of Emergency Management and NYPD canceled the parade on the afternoon of October 30, just a day after Hurricane Sandy wreaked its havoc and left much of Manhattan below 14th Street in the dark.

Without event cancellation insurance, Village Halloween Parade Inc. found itself on the hook for thousands of dollars in costs like artists' commissions and fees for items like port-a-potties and lighting.

At the same time, many corporate sponsors that had given money to the nonprofit asked for their donations back once the parade was canceled.

"It's been devastating," said Fleming, a 67-year-old Dutchess County resident who has run the parade since 1985.

Organizers plan to launch a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign in September seeking at least $50,000 for the annual event that draws 2 million spectators, Fleming said.

Parade organizers receive grant funds from the NYC & Company Foundation and the Rudin Foundation, among others, but most of the money comes from corporate sponsors and local television stations that pay to air the parade, Fleming said.

She declined to disclose the nonprofit's projected budget for this year, but tax records show the organization declared expenses of more than $271,000 in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. This figure includes expenses for three other events the group hosted in the state. Fleming received an annual salary of $30,000 for working 30 hours per week, the records show.

If the full show can go on this Halloween, parade-goers will see a "Rewind" theme and an "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired dance performance involving more than 100 people.

"The idea is to go back where we were when the parade was canceled," Fleming said, describing dancing clocks and shadow puppet rabbits. "We feel like we have to bring the parade back to life."

The parade will also include a float honoring post-Hurricane Sandy disaster relief volunteers.

Faced with a similar budget shortfall because of Hurricane Sandy, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade raised more than $117,000 this year through a Kickstarter campaign, with donations from more than 2,300 people. No donation topped $400.

In making a case for why donations are needed, Fleming described how the Village Halloween Parade has paid tribute over the years to people in need, including victims of the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

"We have a history of helping others after disasters," she said. "Now we're in a situation where disaster has happened to us and we need help."