E 4 Jeanne Fleming – New York Halloween Parade

11 August 2020

Extract from Jeanne Fleming Interview - New York Halloween Parade

Nichola Burton: I am thrilled to be speaking with American Celebration artists. Jeanne Fleming who is the Artistic and the Producing director for the New York Halloween Parade.

Jeanne Fleming: It’s really hard because this year was a spectacular year. It was a Saturday night. It was a full day, a blue moon. Billy Porter was our grand Marshall and it was right before the election. So it was slated to be probably the greatest Parade maybe ever. So it was very, very hard to cancel it, but there really was no choice. I mean, when you get down to it, we love our people. We love everyone in this parade and we just couldn’t take the risk that anyone would get sick or anything would happen to them if they came out. And that was decided before, of course the mayor’s office and the governor’s instructions are no gatherings is larger than 50.

So we really couldn’t do it. But we decided that we wanted to make the decision on our own and let her people know that we did this because we love them. I cannot imagine socially distance Halloween private. It just it’s just impossible. So of course everyone wearing the masks already in the Parade I’m so we thought maybe they’d make an exception for us, but No.

I wake up every morning and say, okay, what’s next? It changes from day to day. I know that the theatre sees it as thinking to get underway sometime in March or April in 2021. This is where we are and then we go into winter and not a lot happens during the winter. And then I think we’ll just see what happens as spring comms, but I don’t think anyone knows what’s happening and we just have to respond as we go along.

Yes. Well, I adore the Volunteers that return year after year to make the parade a Global Event. They make it possible for me. I mean, what happens to me is I, when I was tell people, when I arrived the night of the Parade, I’m useless, everybody else is in charge. I just do interviews and sort of smile. And they do it, their extraordinary Stage Managers a lot of them, this Parade is run very differently from any other Parade and that it doesn’t line up on streets and just sort of move out street after street. It’s a call by a professional stage manager who says one from here, went from there, one from their once in a year. And he does that according to the feel of the Parade of what’s happening at that moment, how the police are feeling, how reports are going. On a Saturday night, there’ll be around 80,000 people. So the street feels up 10 times during the course of the night. So we have to keep moving it out so others can come in from the end. And then we have to also be sure that there’s enough music because music is what keeps the Parade safe. That has to be enough Music and everything has to be planned also for certain things to get on television. So its kind of this, I don’t know. I mean we have such a feel for it. This is my 40th year doing the Parade. Most of the marshals that I work with have been with me for 25 or 30 years.

This year there will be something that happens that keeps the spirit of Halloween in the village in a way, in a big way. So we’re not doing anything virtual because we feel that that’s not with the event is about, I like this is something that will happen in the fresh air. It will be Real it will be meaningful. It will be big. The spider is going to come out at seven o’clock and he will be out the entire time during a normal course of the Parade, which is about four or five hours. The spider will stay there. Basil Twist will be up in the tower operating him. So that is something that we are saying, yes, that will have this feel for the kids, with the Village that we have to do that.

Everyone is making their own rules. So some people you go somewhere and they stay 20 feet away from you. Other people are more willing if they’re and what they consider to be a safe environment. Everyone has a different idea. We did not even think about trick or treating until I was on a phone call with the Mayors office. When suddenly we realized it cannot be the same because people are not opening their doors. You are not allowed to have more than two  people on an elevator. So how are children going to go into strange households?

So we think probably there’ll be some things that happen, maybe outdoors, you know, where children can go to a park and there’ll be something that happens like that. There’ll be a lot of the kind of trick or treating that usually happens. I’m in buildings for example, who would have thought that that would ever happen. That is just crazy.

Now its all about New Yorkers because we have no tourists.

In the Music Real E136, Nichola Burton was thrilled to be speaking with American Celebration Artist, Jeanne Fleming who is the Artistic and Producing Director of the Village Halloween Parade in New York. This year would have been the 47th annual parade. We talk about all the aspects of the parade that have made it such an iconic event worldwide. We also hear about how New York is going right now post COVID. Jeanne has created memories for millions of New Yorkers and tourists over the past few years and like so many Festivals and Public Events across the globe, not being able to deliver the parade in 2020 is almost unthinkable however in the true tradition of the parade, Jeanne and the organisers have quite a few surprises up their sleeves so stay tuned.

Connect with Jeanne Fleming and the NYC Halloween Parade:





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