West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 23 | November. 07 -,13 2007

Villager photo by Talisman Brolin

A kid in a monkey costume got a lift at the Children’s Halloween Parade in Washington Square Park last Wednesday.

It’s scary, but kids’ get-ups reflect mom and dad

By Francesca Levy 

Fourteen days before Halloween, Ann Levine planned her 7-month-old daughter Willa’s costume.

“We still have to find the braids, and the bandana,” she said.

Levine, a 33-year-old, full-time mom, knew these items were crucial. What was a Willie Nelson costume without braids and a bandana?

More than 1,200 children, many too young to know or care what they were dressed as, attended the 17th annual Children’s Halloween Parade in Washington Square Park, hosted by Community Board 2 and New York University.

In the Village, Halloween was never the exclusive province of children. Bare skin, drag kings and queens and elaborate get-ups have characterized the distinctly adult Halloween Parades past.

When revelers became parents, they often transferred their creativity to costumes for their children.

According to Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist and expert on family and the media, costumes often say more about parents than children.

“Halloween costumes of little kids are a projection of their parents’ unfulfilled fantasies,” she said in a phone interview. “The creativity of the costume reflects their own desire to be creative or unique.”

Marie Spears, an administrative manager at New York University who has been involved with the Children’s Halloween’s Parade for 10 years, has overseen countless decorated infants.

“Consistent favorites for children under 18 months are pea pod, bumblebee, pumpkins and ladybugs,” she wrote in an e-mail.

But some families buck the status quo.

“Costumes that stand out are always homemade,” she said, listing a few: “jellyfish, tornado, jockey, robots, garbage.” 

Julissa Collado, a manager at the Ricky’s Halloween shop on Broadway at Prince St., agreed that unusual costumes aren’t mass-produced. The favorites at her store were little Superman, little UPS man and little postman. Most of their infant costumes were what Collado called “normal.”

“Unless a parent makes something up, the costume’s not going to be that weird,” she said. 

Which, for parents like Saskia Thompson, 32, may be exactly the point. Thompson lives in Brooklyn but took her newborn boy, Rio, to the Washington Square Park parade. Rio, who, at 4 weeks old, is too young to drink from a bottle or lift his own head, was dressed as the hookah-smoking caterpillar of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

According to Lieberman, obscure costumes reflect a parent’s “desire to be creative or unique, or of high enough status to be able to afford a ‘couture’ costume — not the Target variety.” 

Money, wish fulfillment and parents’ increasing desire to stay young and cool, have created a new Halloween phenomenon: The child as personal accessory. 

Brit Pastor, a 35-year-old teacher, walked her daughter, Bella, age 2, around the park on a warm fall day before Halloween.

“She’s going to be a little fairy,” Pastor said. But the choice wasn’t Bella’s.

“We found a cute outfit at a consignment store,” said her mom. 

According to Lieberman, “little princesses and warriors represent the fantasy of their moms to be sexy and attractive women, and make dads feel strong and powerful.” 

At least one parent had little influence on costume choice. 

Jason Friend’s 3-year-old son Tejas decided on Darth Vader.

“He wants me to be Chewbacca,” said Friend, 32. “But I don’t know if that’s going to happen.” 

Ann Levine, who took the miniature Willie Nelson to her mommy group after the Children’s Parade, was undecided on her own costume.
“I might dress up as her stage manager,” she said. 


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