I used to think Halloween for kids in NYC sucked the big one. My memory of walking from house to house in my old neighborhood was the way Halloween was SUPPOSED to be, I thought. Trick or treating shouldn’t be in an apartment building with a candy sign-up sheet left at the doorman so every parent knows exactly which apartments will be home to give out candy at what time.
Everyone has a friend who lives in a really big building and those are supposed to be Halloween windfalls for the kids. Five hundred apartments can be completed in a half hour! What could be better than that?
As if the point of trick or treating is only about the candy haul.
Most people on those sign-up sheets haven’t even committed to being home. They just leave a free-for-all candy bowl in front of their closed door. Which might be fine if you walked there from someone’s house and down their walk and up their front steps in the dark. But no, in a NYC apartment building, you’ve just taken two steps from the neighboring candy bowl on the left. They are sharing the same carpet, for god sakes. In a well-lit hallway!
Last year, after we finished trick or treating in our building, I decided to venture out with Mazzy after dark, so she could see all the grown-ups dressed up in our neighborhood— NYC being an excellent place for an ADULT to celebrate Halloween.
To my surprise, we found a nearby street lined with storefronts, that actually went to great lengths to make it festive for the kids. Most shops had decorated and their respective cashiers, barbers, baristas, etc. were all dressed up. In REALLY STELLAR COSTUMES, this being the East Village and all.
That was my first clue that Manhattan hadn’t totally failed our children at Halloween.
This year, with Mazzy being almost five and my network of NYC moms friends bigger than ever, we had it all figured out.
I picked up Mazzy from school at 3pm and we changed into her Anna costume in the bathroom. (Yes, she ditched her original handmade Flower Girl costume for a store bought Disney Princess dress. At least it wasn’t Elsa.)
We met my friend and her daughter (Wonder Woman) outside school and headed to Washington Square Park to meet up with Harlow, who was at the Kid’s Halloween Parade with our nanny.
We headed down Bleecker and stumbled into a green fountain with all the cops lined up to man the West Village Halloween Parade that would be happening later that evening.
Bleecker street was littered with costumed kids going store-to-store trick or treating.
Most stores and restaurants were not only giving out candy to the kids, they were giving promotional items to the adults. I made out with a shot of carrot juice, a cup of gourmet tea and a Bantam bagel which is basically the bagel version of a munchkin filled with cream cheese.
Only in NY.
I told Mazzy she could eat as much candy as she wanted on Halloween, but that was it. There would be no candy tomorrow. She was so excited for the limitless bounty, she nodded excitedly when I told her the rules. Although I’m sure she completely understood because she still asked me before each piece of candy if she could have it. I’d say yes and then Mazzy would promise it would be her last.
“You don’t have to say that, Mazzy. You can have as much as you want.”
“No, Mom, This is my LAST PIECE.”
“You’ve said that for the last five pieces of candy.”
“This one will be my LAST piece, Mom. REALLY.”
“Whatever you say, Mazzy.”
Two seconds later she would be asking for another piece and saying that would be her last. Kids are funny.
This is what Harlow looked like when I found her.
Is that not too much?
She insisted on getting out of the stroller, grabbing a bag and trick or treating just like the big kids.
As with everything, she took Halloween VERY SERIOUSLY.
It’s worth noting, the first candy Harlow ate was M&M’s and she stuck the whole bag in her mouth without opening it.
The next part of our plan was to walk up to 11th Street between 5th and 6th aves, a brownstone lined block well known for being prime trick or treating territory.
Apparently, there are a few blocks around the city that specifically dedicate themselves to making Halloween fun for the kids. 11th Street is sectioned off by the cops so no cars can come down and all the brownstones decorate. The families who live in those brownstones (lucky ducks) are mostly all dressed up and giving out candy personally on their front stoop. As if that was a requirement for living there. The first stop on the street is actually an old church that decked itself out as a haunted house for the occasion.
Mike met us there and took over watching Harlow, while I went door-to-door with Mazzy. When the crowds got overwhelming, Mike took Harlow home and Mazzy and I stayed to finish the block.
I call this photo, “CANDYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!”
After we had gone up one side of the street and back down to the other, it started to get dark and we headed back to the East Side of town, staring at all the crazy costumed people along the way. We saw minions (“Look at those funny people!”), Clockwork Orange costumes (“His underwear is over his pants!”), grown-up versions of Anna (“Look, Mom! It’s the real Anna!”), and tons more. The streets in NY are filled with people in costume.
We got pizza at Joe’s and then headed to the block we discovered last year for one last Halloween trick or treating finale.
The stores were decorated and the last few kids were still trick or treating before bedtime. My favorite shop had to be Dinosaur Hill whose owner was dressed as a tiger.
In one shop, the clerk asked Mazzy if she was from Frozen.
“You’re not from Frozen?”
“Then where are you from?”
“New York City.”
Ha! That got a big laugh from everybody.
On the way home, we passed an apartment where two girls were hanging a basket of candy out their window, exchanging candy for screams.
But it was when we got home that Mazzy and I got our biggest surprise. We rang the bell and Mike and Harlow answered together wearing their matching Superman costumes.
Now THAT was unexpected.
Mike and I put the kids to bed and then ate all the Kit Kats out of Mazzy’s candy haul. Then we put our candy bowl outside the door in case there were any trick or treating stragglers and called it a night.
A pretty perfect Halloween night.
Dare I say, better than trick or treating door-to-door in my old neighborhood?