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It’s official: Park Slope’s Halloween parade is better than Manhattan’s!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The Greenwich Village Halloween parade and Park Slope’s Halloween parade may celebrate the same holiday, but they march to the beat of very different drummers.

As Park Slope neighborhood parents dress their kids in tiny hand-sewn Chrysler building costumes and taxicabs made out of refrigerator boxes, participants in the Village celebration are donning other garb.

“The last time I went to the Village parade I saw a flying nun pull up her habit to reveal a giant phallus,” attested hometown Halloween hero George Shea, a Park Sloper whose hand-made, 14-foot pirate vessel, the Ship of the Black Spot, has become a new tradition at the 23-year-old Seventh Avenue march.

For family guru and organizer Susan Fox, the Middle American hokiness of the Park Slope parade is just more her speed.

“Our parade is more quaint and less adult. It’s a sweeter parade,” said Fox, who also runs the Park Slope Parents Web site. “There’s no influence from people who have been drinking since Happy Hour.”

She’s right about the Manhattan affair’s reputation for disorderly conduct — in past years there have been hundreds of public drinking arrests. Back in Park Slope, the worst-case scenario is a temper tantrum, a tummy ache or a missed bedtime.

Still, despite the Park Slope spook fest’s obvious advantages, Jeanne Flemming, 30-year artistic/producing director of the Village Halloween parade said she has yet to attend.

“I hear [theirs] is growing, but as long as the Village Parade is happening, the Park Slope parade will probably remain a local event,” sniffed Flemming.

Relations between the two Halloween destinations have been tense since Park Slope figuratively egged the Village affair in 1986.

“If you think the Village parade is special, wait until you see what the Civic Council has planned for Park Slope on Halloween Eve,” reported the Civic News, antagonistically, in September of that fateful year.

A lot has changed since then, but Park Slope parade organizers are more zealous than ever. With a West Indian percussion band and a “Spooky Seas” theme to include a 20-foot-tall mermaid puppet, Fox says that this year’s march will be like the Crown Heights West Indian Day Parade and Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade rolled into one — only without the fire marshal-sized crowds or bare breasts.

And there’s a big All Hallow’s Eve improvement this year, as the parade will include a Fifth Avenue leg, and will end with musical festivities at the Old Stone House in J.J. Byrne Park.

Better still: You’ll be in bed by 9:30 pm. Can the Greenwich Village parade say that?

The Park Slope Children’s Halloween Parade begins at 6:30 pm at Seventh Avenue and 14th Street, turns left at Third Street and continues to Fifth Avenue. For info, visit www.parkslopeciviccouncil.org.

Posted 6:17 pm, October 22, 2009
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