Halloween 2003 - Horror on Wheels
NBC's Today Show Halloween - Exposure guaranteed
Greenwich Village Dog Costume Contest - Dogs with Style
More photos in the gallery's Halloween-NYC Section
NYC’s best party night had arrived.
On a Friday with balmy temperatures rolling into the region, the stars were aligning for one of the wildest nights in a very long time.
This year, Costume Network was teaming with new friends. With the folks launching “The Horror Channel”, the plan was for a coming-out party in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. With an all-black float warning “It’s Coming… Halloween 2004” (in blood red), the stage was set.
In a town where Halloween is akin to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Costume Network is a Mardi Gras-like “Krewe” that has hosted floats for the past four years. This year, The Horror Channel stepped up to share the creativity and energy of this most excellent night. Arriving with a large crew sporting ghoulish body paints, a hefty generator and a dozen or so Horror House costumers, our new friends brought all sorts of electricity. It was to be our best float yet.
Targeting an October 2003 launch, this TV network is overdue. With dedicated channels for all sorts of programming including the Sci-Fi Channel, Animal Planet, The History Channel, The Food Network and, more recently, subjects such as Action, Love, Mystery, Gaming and Western programming, it is most surprising that there is no such dedicated channel for Horror fans. With thousands of existing horror films and a huge fan base spending tons of box office cash (not to mention the hoards of enthusiasts who go to horror conventions), it seems that a year-round horror source would do well.
With this in mind, a group of NY area television execs have been hard at work building momentum for such a launch. With support from Hollywood, investors and various partners, the future looks bright… Thus, Halloween 2003 was the beginning of the countdown and a celebration for all that has already been accomplished. On both counts, a party was called for.
With the all-black float gussied up with a faux stone bridge and gothic signage, the plan was simple… Play great music and recruit the most horrific costumers to dance on the float. With the Master of “Scare-amonies” Count Cristofear on the wireless microphone and DJ Butterworth spinning the tunes, there was little doubt that we were in for a wild ride.
The ride, however, would take some time to begin.
With the largest turnout ever, the delays customary for this event were exacerbated to an extreme level. In place for the parade launch at 7pm, it took hours for the float to finally lurch forward onto the parade route. Not to worry, however, the fun began as soon as the music started.
Waiting in position, the Horror Channel-Costume Network party went on for hours as parade marchers milled about, made friends and posed for cameras. The most prominent float in the parade, ours was a sight to behold and a destination for many costumed thrill-seekers. With our mission in mind, there was preference for horror themed costumers but, as is customary for the parade, diversity and, ultimately, chaos was to rule the night. With Count Cristofear stirring up the crowd (and booting inappropriate costumers), the float crew was being worked into a frenzy.
By the time we pushed off, the float was home to 40+ costumers ranging from ghastly to beautiful to ridiculous. Besides the gothy and the ghoulish, there were a variety of others including, somewhat ironically, the Star Wars fan group “Empire City Garrison”. As we pulled into the parade, ours was a colorful montage of truly excitable folks. In addition to the riders, the float had also developed a large foot following with many more great people surrounding the float, grooving along as we made our way up 6th Avenue.
As we moved along, the float cranked tunes and bounced to the beat. Even though the crowd seemed exhausted by the long night, many woke up as we came into earshot. Like a wave we moved uptown. Friends that were watching from overlooking apartment parties said we were worth the wait.
Self-congratulations aside, the night was a great one for everyone who participated. With such a large turnout, watching from the sidelines was more difficult than usual with the only real option being participation in the parade itself. With so many coming out and making the effort, once again, New York City showed its friendly face and just how special a place it is.
But the night was still very young…
Without getting into details, suffice to say that the city rocked in every corner that night. All who were out reported wild scenes and positive vibrations flowing in many clubs, bars and apartment parties. Streaming around on the streets, New York’s most colorful souls paraded from one insane party to another. While it soon became a haze for all of us, it was indeed a night to be remembered.
Coming in Halloween, 2004… ???
For more on The Horror Channel go to: www.HorrorChannel.com or contact us.
More photos in the gallery's Halloween-NYC Section
To all you media whore wannabe’s…
The secret is out… If you want to be seen by millions of people all around the country – report to NBC’s Today Show at 7 a.m. on Halloween Morning any year. Oh yea, the catch is that you have to be in a REALLY good costume.
Hungry for costume fun, Costume Network folk have participated in the Today Show Halloween broadcast for several years and have seen it grow from an unstructured street scene to a well choreographed costume party in the Rockefeller Center plaza.
In addition to the usual sign-waiving touristy folk who gather, every day, around the fenced area just outside the Today Show studio, Halloween brings out dozens of highly motivated costumers who show up to parade their fabulousness. Costumers include a nice cross-section of cute kids and babies, dogs and adults who range from very creative to downright weird. With Today Show being the most popular US morning TV show, their cameramen show favoritism to cuteness and recognizable concepts.
Every year also features the Today Show gang; hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, weatherman Al Roker and news anchor Ann Curry, making “surprise” appearances in one type of costume or other. Over the years, these four have impressed me with their fun, down-to-earth attitudes. Not usually a fan of standard media personalities, these four repeatedly show how cool they are with their self depreciating in-costume attitudes and the “real-people” way that they engage the crowd.
Prior to 9/11 and anthrax, the event was an easygoing affair where the Today Show folk engaged the crowd directly (interviews, etc.) and then chose their favorites for the costume contest. At that time, seasoned New Yorkers with sharp elbows could easily push past tourists for front row positioning. In 2000, the year of our launch, Costume Network delighted many costume and sci-fi fans when one of its people, costumed in sci-fi garb, was interviewed by Katie who promptly found out about CN and its website. While the producer was not amused (the close-up shot was quickly switched), website traffic shot up while many emailed their congratulations for the success of this guerilla marketing ploy.
Since 2001, the event has become much more structured while its popularity has grown. Now many more people show up and the entrance to the event is tightly controlled by metal detecting guards. Once inside the gated area, one will find many costumers and non-costumed lame-o’s clogging the waiting area. All are craning to get a view of the “inner circle” where the costume activities will take place. In this inner circle, elaborate sets have been set-up for the best on-screen visuals, and perhaps, to obscure the sign waiving outer audience from ruining the shot. Producers will scan the crowd and pull out those that have the best costumes and camera-friendly vibe. Uncostumed “mundanes” and store-bought costumers are left to fight for position while the chosen few are led into the inner sanctum.
This year, the event seemed like an all-morning marathon with costume footage being shown between news segments leading up to several fully planned costume events that included costume contests, a spooky skills competition where costumed kids ran around and performed several tasks and the campy-fun costume antics of the hosts.
This year, Katie was Mary Poppins, Matt and Al were Simon & Garfunkle and Ann was the horse riding western hero Annie Oakley. In 2002, Katie, in a probable product placement, was Sponge Bob Square Pants, Matt and Al were, fortuitously, Siegfried and Roy and Ann was a well done-up Statue of Liberty. In 2001, the staff was mostly paranoid and I cannot remember who dressed up as what. In 2000, Katie was Lucy, Matt and Al were Jennifer Lopez and Sean “Puffy” Combs and Ann was Joan of Arc, again on horseback. I remember thinking that Matt looked pretty good as a girl.
More so than in past years, the cast mixed with the crowd and participated in some of the competitions. Katie and the others happily posed for photos with the costumers and anyone was free to engage them in conversation. In one instance, the crew showed just how their #1 show status has made them untouchable. Unbelievably, in reference to a National Enquirer story alleging that Matt used to fancy cocaine (20 years ago), Katie produced a bowl of sugar and offered a heaping teaspoon while Al and Ann chuckled.
In the costumer area, there were many very well done costumes. My favorites were the “Tabled Ladies” and their dog, the Black & White Lucille Ball, the two Traffic Cone Kids, the Headhunters, the Coppertone Kid with the stuffed dog nipping her diaper and the creepy Nosferatu guy. The “in color” Lucy with her rotating chocolates conveyer belt won the costume contest while various adults, kids and costumed dogs milled about. With the warm weather gracing the scene, a good time was had by all.
Stop by next year… In costume.
MORE pics in the gallery's Halloween-NYC section.
It was a fine fall morning…
On the Eve of New York’s “Halloweek”, Manhattan’s Lower East Side was gearing up for one of its most delightful events… Throughout the neighborhood, dog owners were wrestling with their pets. It was that time again… Time for the annual Tompkins Square Park Dog Costume Contest.
Once a decrepit park that was home to transients and other shady characters, Tompkins Square Park was given a facelift during the 90’s as the neighborhood gentrified. Centrally located in Manhattan’s hip East Village, the park is now a play place for a host of neighborhoodies and various cool and creative souls. Considering the area’s history for artists and random wackiness, one can only wonder at the full potential for its dog costume contest.
Gathering before noon in its large fenced-in “dog run” area, a large turnout was at hand.
Prancing about were numerous well-festooned pooches and their fawning owners. Everywhere it seemed, the dogs were in varying states of delight or outright rebellion. Some loved their kitschy clothing while others wanted no part of the uncomfortable garments, wigs and necklaces being forced on them.
With owners, photographers and their fashionable friends all milling about, the dogs pranced, shook and sniffed themselves, and each other, with a high level of excitement. Once can only imagine the internal canine dialogues that were going on.
Carmen Miranda seemed unimpressed by the lesser costumes… “Pullll-eeeez dahling… Don’t muss my outfit, and yes I know my earrings are fantastic!”. The “Dog in Sheep’s Clothing” wanted to lick and befriend everyone: “hello-hello!, great outfit! Come here, please… Let me sniff you – tee hee”. The Mr. T. pit bull: “I pity the fool who messes with my mohawk”. The Charlie’s Angels seemed like they wanted to go home. “Please get us out of these horrible outfits! The wigs keep getting in our eyes!”.
While not always as organized as this event, pet costuming is a rapidly growing trend amongst over 10 million+ families nationally. Around the country, there are many such events that celebrate one type of pet or other and more and more feature some sort of costume contest. With several companies making costumes for dogs, cats, horses and even parrots, this fad seems like it will continue to grow as long as owners enjoy laughing with (or at) their pets.
The primary problem, as we see it, is that while many owners may want to costume their pets, it seems many want no part of this strange torture.
While a small minority of the dogs seemed to enjoy the costumes and the attention that comes with them, most were either grudgingly dealing with it or were in a constant state of agitation.
Headgear – be it hats or wigs – seemed to cause the greatest distraction and were continually being shook or pawed off. Even though owners resorted to tethers and double-sided tape, the result was a continuous battle pitting fashion against freedom.
And then the competition began…
With chaos clambering, the Master of Ceremonies announced each costumed pooch who was then lead down the makeshift aisle by the proud parents.
A spectacle it 'twas…
In a colorful parade of ridiculousness, each owner’s creativity (and each dog’s acceptance of said creativity) was paraded for everyone’s enjoyment.
From a creativity standpoint, I was particularly impressed with Carmen Miranda. The best group theme, mostly because all four dogs cooperated, was the Wizard of Oz. The cutest, and their were many, had to be “Bad Dog”, the Batdog or the Bumblebee Dog, and the most unhappy looking had to be the two dogs in the blue wigs and red shirts (dogwear 7 & 8 in our gallery). The simplest costume (with impact) was the Little Rascal’s “Petey” whose eye had a circle drawn around it.
As far as the official contest…
Who won?… Who cares?
All of these creative pet owners had a fun filled afternoon and the East Village
community benefited from this most adorable spectacle.