The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade was back Thursday, after organizers raised thousands of dollars to make up for a cash flow problem created by Superstorm Sandy.
Known for throngs of wildly dressed people of all ages, the fanciful annual nighttime parade has been going on 40 years and has a small-town feel: Anyone can participate as long as you show up in a costume.
The parade was canceled last year in the aftermath of Sandy, and organizer Jeanne Fleming said there wasn't enough money to put it on this year. So organizers turned to an online fundraising campaign through Kickstarter and raised $55,000.
"We had an enormous deficit because of the hurricane," Fleming said. "We just didn't have enough money to do the parade. We asked for grants, we hoped the Bloomberg foundation would give us some money, but nothing was happening."
She said her costs included an insurance rate that increased because of the storm, plus permits, walkie-talkies, bathrooms and payment for musicians and artists who make the giant puppets.
Luckily, she said, 900 donors came forward to shell out needed cash.
"We found the people who think of community," she said. "That felt really good to us. They were committed to helping us do it. They think beyond themselves, the think 'This matters for my city, and I'm going to step up.'"
The event started in 1973 with a puppeteer marching with his family and grew into an event that draws thousands of spectators and is televised. In 2011, giant, floating eyeballs and protesters dressed as budget axes mingled with the multitude of blood-soaked zombies.
This year, our very own Kelly Ripa served as grand marshal.
Fleming has been running the show for more than 30 years.
For Fleming, this year is particularly sweet. Her 22-year-old son, Jordan, needed a kidney transplant - he was set for one last year but canceled when the family thought the parade would be rescheduled, not canceled. He lost his spot in the donor line and was out of luck until a longtime parade volunteer gave him one. The transplant was completed this year and they're both doing fine.
Her son, the donor and the doctors from Weill Cornell Medical Center will be on a float with others who helped cleanup efforts during Sandy.
The theme: Real heroes don't need capes.