Halloween in NYC did not start out well this year. At the exact moment when kids got home from school and parents had begun to dress up their little ones as dragons and butterflies and Disney Descendants characters (like my kids), we all began to get notifications on our phones.
A truck had run down cyclists and pedestrians in Tribeca.
For those of you who don’t know NYC that well, Tribeca is in downtown Manhattan, below the West Village. The path along the West Side Highway between Pier 26 to Pier 40, where the attack went down, is a very popular spot for cyclists and runners along the Hudson River. It is where I run with Zen Girl Fitness on Fridays; the bike path by the water that you’ve seen on Snapchat.
“Where was it exactly?” we asked each other in hushed tones so the kids couldn’t hear us. “Are they saying it’s a terrorist attack?” I mouthed to Allie so she could look it up on her phone while I zipped up Harlow’s Evie dress and brushed Mazzy’s Mal wig.
The kids poured candy into a big bowl, asked for lipstick and talked excitedly about our plans for the evening, while I took calls from other parents behind the closed door of my bedroom, who were wondering if we were still going trick or treating that night.
While some of our friends in Tribeca decided to stay in (we know a few people who live within a couple blocks and couldn’t hide the sirens and the police tape from their kids even if they tried), many parents, including myself, decided we’d still take the kids out. I couldn’t imagine explaining to Mazzy and Harlow why Halloween had been canceled. Plus, the East Village and the West Village are considerably more neighborhood-y than Tribeca, with small residential streets, lined with parallel parked cars, that seemed unlikely for another attack.
Still, as I walked West with Mazzy and Harlow in tow, while listening to helicopters hover overhead and knowing full well why they were there, I wondered if I had made the right choice.
Then we arrived at 11th Street between 5th and 6th Ave., a brownstone lined street that is closed to cars on Halloween, and the crowds grew, the kids in costume poured out onto the street and it felt like Halloween in NYC again, just as usual.
We’ve gone to W 11th St. for Halloween for the past four years (it’s the most popular spot for trick or treating in the West Village) and I actually think this past Tuesday was the most crowded I have ever seen it.
As the kids ran back and forth, depositing Sour Patch Kids in their plastic pumpkins and trading Snickers for Kit Kats, all the parents whispered details about the incident in Tribeca as we learned them (yes, it was being investigated as a terrorist attack, did you hear the death count is up to eight now?) but eventually, I stopped thinking about the horrors of the day and just let myself enjoy Halloween with my kids.
I actually hadn’t meant to write about the terrorist attack at all, because I really just wanted to share our fun. But as it often happens, I sit down to write and something unexpected comes out. I hope you will forgive me for the abrupt change in tone that’s about to happen in this post, but that is what it felt like on Tuesday night.
Forgetting, having fun, remembering, going quiet and then forgetting and letting ourselves go again.
So. Let me take a few steps back to the “getting ready” portion of the evening…
In keeping with Mazzy and Harlow’s Descendants theme, I was going to be Malificent (Mal’s mom) and I had asked Mike to be the Evil Queen (Evie’s mom). I don’t think I need to tell you that dressing as a woman is very out of character for my camera shy husband, but I asked him anyway. It had been a week since my request and every time I nudged him about it, he suddenly changed the subject.
“Just for a family photo and then you can change!” I suggested.
Still no straight answer. I figured I was on my own, but bought accessories for both costumes (horns and gloves for Malificent, a crown and cape for the Evil Queen) just in case.
When we all got back to our apartment from school that afternoon, there had been a huge leak in our kitchen and Mike was attempting to fix it while waiting for the plumber. He was in an exceptionally bad mood. Not exactly the moment to press him about the costume. Plus, since he was currently cleaning out the cabinet under the sink and dealing with water damage on our floor, he was obviously in no position to take pictures. And I didn’t want to interrupt him, because I was just thankful that he was the one dealing with it.
That’s when I got the brilliant idea of taking photos of myself as both Malificent and the Evil Queen and then photoshopping something together later that evening. What do you think? (I was pretty impressed with myself.)
After our little photo shoot, I decided to wear the Malificent costume for trick or treating and left the Evil Queen get-up for Mike with a note to meet us when he was done with the sink. In my wildest dreams, I did not think he would actually wear it.
Then Mazzy, Harlow and I set out to meet friends in the West Village, including my sister, Uncle Mikey, Neve and Jack. My sister is my barometer for responsible parenting and since she was out and about, it made me feel better about my own decision to take the kids.
Try as we might, we could not get Neve to take a photo.
Mazzy and Harlow trick or treating together were quite a hilarious pairing. When it comes to free candy, they could not be more different.
Mazzy wants anything and everything.
Harlow, it turns out, is EXTREMELY particular.
1) She does not like to get doubles. If she has a Starburst in her pumpkin and another house offers Starbursts, her eyes will well up with tears and she will say, “But I already got that one!!!” I had to explain to her that candy was not like toys, since you eat them. “You can enjoy one so much that you might want another of the same, Harlow!”
2) Harlow likes to taste everything the second she receives it and then when she realizes she doesn’t like it (which is 95% of the time), she will hand it to me to finish. I got half eaten Reeses Peanutbutter Cups, half eaten Snickers, half eaten Laffy Taffy, etc. FYI, you can eat A LOT of candy that way.
3) Once Harlow learned what she liked (pretty much only Sour Patch Kids and Twix Bars), she would walk up to outstretched bowls of candy, silently study what was inside for a good 2-3 minutes and then shake her head and walk away without taking anything.
4) At one point, early in the evening, Harlow decided she had already gotten too much candy and did not want another piece. Never in the history of the world has a child made this statement before, so I applaud her.
After we made the rounds on 11t St., including the ultimate House of Horrors, a building that had Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Kim Jong Un hanging out of the windows (check out Mueller on the right with angel wings), we crossed 6th Avenue (right before they closed it down for the parade) and headed deeper into the West Village.
We met our friends who live in the area, who were giving out candy from their front stoop, a privilege that very few Manhattanites get to experience, since most of us live in apartment buildings.
After giving out candy for a bit (which is really the best way to ogle everyone’s costumes), we walked around the neighborhood to see the best decorated buildings and brownstones. There are a few that are known for their inspired decor.
Check out the octopus tentacles coming out the windows! Mazzy was convinced it was Uma.
It was at that point that I got a call from Mike who said he was a few blocks away and would meet us. What he neglected to mention was that he took me up on my offering of Evil Queen accessories and totally surprised the kids. Not only was he wearing the crown and cape, he had arranged for a friend to do his make-up. (Apparently, there was some pre-planning involved that almost got derailed with the kitchen leak.) He had on bright red lipstick and huge black drawn eyebrows.
It was AWESOME. The kids loved it. I loved it. And he even impressed the people in the West Village, who don some pretty amazing costumes.
Since it was already dark, I couldn’t get a good shot of Mike until later that night, when we were on our way back home on the subway.
I’m pretty sure my husband won Halloween last night. Or at the very least, Dad of the Year.
On the subway, people in costumes started filing in at each stop, until our car was so crowded that I couldn’t see my family sitting in the seats a few feet across from me. It was then that I remembered the events from earlier that evening. The subway scares me these days. It just does.
A few minutes later, we arrived at our stop, filed out and I forgot again. We stopped at a few last stores for candy on our walk back home and then continued trick or treating in our apartment building.
Our doorman got the one and only photo of us all together as a family.
Halloween has always been one of New York City’s favorite and most celebrated holidays. This year, I felt shaken by the horrific events of the day, guilty for enjoying myself, but also proud to say that we will not be deterred from living our lives and loving our incredible city.