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Boo Hoo! Money woes haunt Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Photo Credit: amNewYork illustration

This year’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is looking scary for all the wrong reasons.
Parade director Jeanne Fleming told amNewYork the tradition has not faced such frightening financial straits in the 30 years she’s run the show.

The parade’s fundraising is a whopping 50 percent off its goal, although Fleming declined to reveal its budget.

The fiscal shortfall could compromise the character of the country’s largest grassroots parade.

The Oct. 31 parade has become an international draw and is said to generate $90 million a year for the city. It pulls in roughly 2.6 million participants and onlookers, according to Fleming. Yet the parade is run on a shoestring budget, said Fleming, its only full-time employee.

With the economy hobbling along, the parade has attracted fewer sponsors for what will be its 38th year, and the sponsors that have signed on have less money to spend. There are four local sponsors this year, down from eight in 2009.

Cutbacks could affect the number of lights, floats and bands. There could even be fewer walkie-talkies for the volunteers who steer the parade.

“There may be no bells and whistles,” said Fleming, who is soliciting donations at halloween-nyc.com.

Yet some longtime parade goers are not too worried.

“It’s so big that I can’t think a lack of funding will change anything,” said Susan Goren, a Greenwich Village resident who’s been marching in the parade since its start.

Others, such as Gary Zema — who’s been playing music on a parade float for 32 years — think the financial squeeze will spoil some of the fun.

Bob Gormley, district manager of Community Board 2 in Greenwich Village, said that he believes few people will notice any of the cutbacks.

Still, he added, “We want the parade to be as successful as possible, and anything that would detract from that is unfortunate.”

As for Fleming, a lack of money, “wouldn’t just be me losing,” she said. It would be “the businesses losing, and the spirit of the city losing.”

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