NEW YORK (AP) — Wacky witches, scary skeletons and masked madmen took over the streets on Thursday as tens of thousands of people marched in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
A light drizzle didn't stop curious onlookers and wildly dressed marchers from strutting their stuff along Manhattan's Sixth Avenue in the annual parade, which was canceled last year due to Superstorm Sandy and was put on this year only after an emergency online fundraising campaign netted more than $50,000 in donations.
Opera singer Melanie Gall, wearing an all-black witch costume, complete with a pointy hat, said the parade was a chance for New Yorkers "to really show off."
"Tonight is our chance to walk the red carpet," Gall said.
The fanciful nighttime parade has been going on for 40 years and maintains its small-town feel: Anyone who shows up in a costume can participate.
That's what banker Andy Padre did, when he helped craft lederhosen out of $3 table cloths for himself and a dozen friends.
"This is what makes New York unique," Padre said as his crew sang "The Sound of Music" show tunes and cruised along the parade route on Citi Bike cycles.
As in years past, there were plenty of hockey mask-wearing Jasons from the horror flick "Friday the 13th" and variations of the blood-soaked zombie. But some new costumes emerged to reflect the times: Many people dressed as Walter White, the fictional high school chemistry teacher turned meth producer from the hit AMC series "Breaking Bad."
Organizer Jeanne Fleming said the parade was revived this year after 900 donors shelled out cash to the group's online Kickstarter campaign, which raised $55,000.
"We found the people who think of community," she said. "That felt really good to us. They were committed to helping us do it. They think beyond themselves. They think, 'This matters for my city, and I'm going to step up.'"
The event started in 1973 with a puppeteer marching with his family and grew into an event that draws thousands of spectators and is televised.
Ben Lemerle, a carpenter who on Thursday was manipulating one of the 12-foot skeleton puppets that have become a staple of the event, said the crowd's energy was especially electric this year, after the Sandy and money woes.
"You can really feel it," he said. "People are really excited."
About 50 music groups, from steel drums to marching bands, provided the soundtrack to Thursday's march, and television host Kelly Ripa acted as grand marshal.
A slightly stunned Abi Sales, visiting from Nottingham, England, watched the revelers from a prime spectator's spot.
"It's a little bit mental," Sales said. "It's amazing. We really have nothing like this."
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.