Candy grabbing, suburban style


BY Helaina N. Hovitz

Who says it can only happen in the suburbs?

The FishBridge Park Annual Halloween Parade, a tradition that began over twenty years ago in what was then a rat-infested, abandoned lot on Dover Street, drew a crowd of over 300 children and their families this year. In the late 1980s, the Front Street and Peck Slip area was home to a mere four ground floor restaurants and a small smattering of residents, making for a much sparser turnout and an even humbler haul of treats on parade day. Last Sunday evening 25 restaurants and 50 residents hit the streets and opened their doors to dish out candy and other goodies to local children.

A neighborhood that once housed nothing but a multitude of empty fish market warehouses has, in recent years, transformed into a family-filled community. Thanks to the efforts of Gary Fagin and Tami Kurtz, Co-directors the South-Water-Front Neighborhood Association’s Halloween Committee, children who live in the Seaport area are now able to experience Halloween as a safe and fun community event, a feat some say is rare in New York City.

“The turnout keeps growing every year,” said Fagin. “Many more kids from surrounding neighborhoods have been showing up.”

The parade route begins at FishBridge Park, and everyone moves together down the nine square blocks on and around Beekman Street, Front Street, and Peck Slip. Meg Ross, who lives on Peck Slip, and friend Ashley Duvan, an employee at Aqua, were decked out and handing out treats to the little ones outside of the Italian eatery.

“This is a great community building experience,” said Ross. “We want the kids to be safe and have the kind of experience that suburban kids get.”

Ross was also accompanied by her two-year-old golden retriever, Bailey, who had just come from the dog party at the nearby Salty Paw, dressed as a “little witch in training.”

Downtown residents Carl Byrd and Chris Boudewyns came donning chef costumes; their daughter, 9-month-old Harper, was dressed as a little lobster.

“This is her first Halloween, and it’s amazing,” said Byrd. “In the past six years that we’ve lived over on Nassau Street, nobody has ever trick or treated in the building.”

Fagin and his new puppy, Daisy, circulated the parade route with a pail for donations to cover the decorations at FishBridge Park. The residents and restaurateurs who volunteered to give out candy and other treats did so on their own dime.

Carson, 3, her sister Mason, 6, and Uma, 4, all agreed their favorite part of the day was getting decked out in their costumes.

“I love putting on jewelry, and, of course, my cute Minnie Mouse headband,” said Uma. “But my most favorite part is putting on makeup. I love makeup.”

Just then, a seemingly muscular three-year-old Spider Man sprinted down the block, shouting, “I’m Shane O’Connor!” stopping only to grab a few peanut butter cups from a resident before taking off again, exclaiming behind him, “My favorite candy is all candy!”

The kids were able to run about freely thanks to Engine 6, the local firehouse, which keeps the streets safe every year and gives kids the opportunity to take pictures with the engines.

Wiley Muchowski, 10, a student at P.S. 234, asked that everyone please note that his skeleton costume was 100 percent homemade, unlike most of the other costumes in the parade. He said his favorite part of the parade was passing all of the carved pumpkins.

“Its like everybody’s very own piece of artwork,” he said.

The ten pumpkins he carved with his family were on display outside of 210 Water Street.

Muchowski’s cousin, Daleela Echahly, was dressed as a cowgirl vampire because she couldn’t make up her mind. She turned six the next day, but was too excited about the parade to even think about her birthday.

“I’m just here to trick or treat and have fun today. I’m not even worried about my birthday,” she said. “Everyone’s happy, and everyone’s getting their candy, and that’s really the whole point of the holiday, right?”