Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween, Manhattan-style

Over the years, I've had many people ask me how the whole trick-or-treating situation works in a big city like New York. It makes much more sense if you knew my neighborhood. Visitors come to Manhattan and see Times Square and Midtown and can be under the impression that we all live in crowded chaos.

I live on the Upper East Side in an area called Carnegie Hill, which is very residential. And, since there seem to be roughly 10,000 schools in a 20-block area, it's also full of families. The traffic isn't bad, but at certain times of the day we have stroller gridlock.

So yeah, Halloween. Most people live in apartment buildings. Often the staff puts on parties in the lobby and the residents sign up if they want to give out candy as well. All the trick-or-treaters get a list and go apartment to apartment, taking the elevator to the top and working down. Sometimes the halls are decorated (I spent about 2 hours yesterday doing mine.) All well and good, but I'd rather go outside. So we did.

The townhouses in the neighborhood go nuts with decorations -- on some blocks, every townhouse is covered with ghouls and spiderwebs. I took my kids up Madison (the stores all give out candy) and we wound our way up several of the better side streets, hitting the townhouses and buildings one by one. HUNDREDS of kids were out, many of whom we knew. Some streets blocked off traffic. One of the owners was holding a giant bag of candy and asked her how many she had to buy. "About thirty," she said.

We went home after about 2 1/2 hours of non-stop candy-grubbing.

How was your Halloween?


Rachel Burton said...

I inadvertantly stumbled into a Halloween party in the lobby of my building wearing sweats. Hopefully they thought it was a costume.

I waled around my neighborhood, which isn't as residential but does have a lot of bar and restaturants, so most of the people dressed up on the streets were adults, which was fun. I saw some costumes that must've cost a fortune. Next year I'm dressing up and going to a party!

WendyCinNYC said...

Rachel--But the question is, did you STAY at the party wearing sweatpants?

I've always wanted to go down to Greenwich Village on Halloween--they have a huge parade with lots and lots of adults dressed up. Sounds like fun, but I'm always on trick-or-treat duty.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Our night was fine, though not many houses in my parents' neighborhood participated. And it seemed this year more than in the past, kids were running carelessly through the streets (one darted in front of me without looking, she was old enough to know better, and then her mom gave ME the dirty look), and lots of people trying to scare my little ones. I was glad to get enough candy to call it good, and head back to my mom and dad's.

Anonymous said...

We had a great time! Even my dog and I got dressed up. We're still on a sugar high.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

I live in the suburbs and Halloween here is pathetic -- few kids -- curfew etc. And it's a very nice 'burb. I think you have quite a story in a NY Halloween since outsiders sometimes view it as a big cold city, not a place with neighborhoods, families and warmth. I grew up in a big city. Yep, those were the glory days of pillow cases filled with candy.

WendyCinNYC said...

Janna--I don't like when people go out of their way to scare the wee ones. Bigger kids, fine, but all the bloody ghouls are scary enough for really small kids.

thedomesticfringe--My dog was Little Red Riding Hood and he wasn't too thrilled about being in drag.

Amy--My parents live out in a suburb and they didn't get any kids trick or treating. Zero. How sad! I can see why--the houses are kind of far apart and there aren't any sidewalks.

NY can be very family-friendly if yu are in the right spot. Maybe in another post I'll take some pictures of my nabe.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

That sounds neat. I lived in various buildings in Chicago - some the kids were able to get to my door and others they weren't. I wondered how they did it in the highrises.

Brian Jay Jones said...

We have the same problem your parents have -- we're in the suburbs, along a state highway, with no sidewalks. While we all generally use the open backyard as the thoroughfare (everyone goes to everyone else's back doors, leaving the front doors gazing emptily at the street), we usually don't get many trick or treaters.

This year we were pleasantly surprised to get two groups of about ten each. We loaded them all up with the bulk of our candy, scrimping only on the Peanut Butter Cups, since I like them best....