October 25, By Tara Law
Organizers of the 27th annual Jackson Heights Halloween Parade are getting ready to hand out 3,500 bags of candy to marching trick or treaters this Tuesday.
The giant costume march will take place at 5 p.m. on Halloween from 89th to 76th Street down 37th Avenue. The event is put on each year by the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, a neighborhood volunteer organization dedicated to improving the community.
Group president Len Maniace said that the parade has attracted more children almost every year. Last year, volunteers gave out 3,200 goodie bags— and ran out. This year, he said, the group plans to hand out an additional 300 bags in anticipation of an even bigger crowd.
Typically, more than 3,000 people participate in the parade, including children from a variety of local organizations and schools, such as P.S. 69, P.S. 149, the Garden School, 82nd Street Academics and the Lexington Center for the Deaf. Thousands watch parade goers.
Maniace is not daunted by the number of children. He said that there are always a good number of local businesses ready to donate to the event, and plenty of volunteers are at the ready to fill bags. The volunteers plan to gather at PS 69 the night before to get ready.
“We have it down pat,” said Maniace of the effort to fill goodie bags. “It gets done faster than you would think.”
The parade will also feature additional ghost puppets— ghoulish decorations that parade marchers carry on sticks. Maniace said that the puppets are made by local teacher Maria Bonilla with the help of volunteers. There are already 12 puppets, and plans for 15 more.
Maniace said that he doesn’t think any other event in Jackson Heights attracts such a large and diverse crowd.“It’s an effort to bring together the entire community and celebrate Halloween,” said Maniace. “All of the various immigrant groups are represented.”
The majority of parade goers march with local schools, but all who are interested in participating in the parade are welcome.
School groups will line up on 89th Street north of 37th Avenue between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.