Halloween night is always a smash in New York City, with costumed people filling the streets and marching down the Greenwich Village streets for the annual Halloween parade.
For several years now, the parade-goers are joined by a creepy-crawling friend: Zohra, a 15-foot wide spider marionette who descends from the clock tower at Jefferson Market Library clock tower at West 10th Street and 6th Avenue. Created by master puppeteer Basil Twist, Zohra made her first appearance in the mid-90s, falling from the clock tower to delight the crowd.
The Jefferson Market Library has its own unique history, the building once served as the Third Judicial District Courthouse from 1874 to 1877 and sat adjacent to the Jefferson Market Prison building that once stood at the corner of West 10th Street and Greenwich Avenue. The building faced demolition in 1958, but after public outcry, the site became a branch of the New York Public Library and later gained national landmark status in 1977.
Twist felt that this was the best spot to unleash Zohra to the public.
“Basil requested [the Jefferson Market Library clock tower] as a potential place and the library’s librarian, Frank Collerius, he was always very behind the idea and supportive of the experience after all these years,” said Barbara Busackino, an original founder of the Village Halloween Parade.
This year, Twist was unable to take the lead on puppetting Zohra, so Jonothon Lyons stepped up to take on the job. According to Lyons, it takes five people to bring Zohra to life on the side of the building.
“We had a rehearsal last week on a Tuesday afternoon to make sure berthing is working and did some upkeep on the puppet this week to get ready,” said Lyons.
Zohra is always a big hit with the crowd, appearing over the railing of the clock tower and dangling down 15 feet once the parade reaches that intersection and remaining visible for the duration of the parade.
“The Parade participants are one of the most excited to see her, she appears and appreciates them the most!” said Busackino.
“They love her! Basil has been performing Zohra at the parade since the mid-90s, so it’s a long-standing tradition that parade goers look forward to every year,” said Lyons.
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