New York celebrates Halloween in the face of tragic attack

Other than an added police and sniper presence, there was no reminder of what happened just a few hours earlier.

Halloween revelers attend the 44th Annual Village Halloween Parade on October 31, 2017 in New York City (photo credit: DIA DIPASUPIL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
Halloween revelers attend the 44th Annual Village Halloween Parade on October 31, 2017 in New York City
NEW YORK – Carrying an orange bucket and wearing heavy black makeup around her eyes, the nine-year-old girl demanded an answer: “Trick or treat?” Shyli Farber, from lower Manhattan, was out with her father, Rob, and little brother, Shane, celebrating Halloween Tuesday night, just three hours after a terrorist attack not far from where they stood killed eight people and wounded 11.
In the semi-disaster zone where many of the pedestrians were policemen, firefighters or journalists, the three managed to collect quite a few candies in a pumpkin-like bucket.
“I was outside the school when it happened,” said Shyli. “I saw and heard all the police cars arrive, but it was only when I got home where Mom turned on the news on television that I realized what had happened. Now, after staying at home for a while, we decided to go outside. But I’m troubled by my conversations with my good friends. They actually saw the man who ran with the guns, they saw the shooting, my friend spoke on television.”
Eerily, at the corner of Chambers and Greenwich Streets, just steps from the attack area, the lights of police cars flickered on Farber’s costume, which she called “zombie cheerleader.” Above, towered the moon and Manhattan’s tallest tower, One World Trade Center, which was built after New York’s original World Trade Center collapsed in the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks.
“Literally, it happened just around the corner,” said Farber. “Look where are we.
First September 11 and now this. My wife went running this morning in the same lane where this man ran people over.
We plan to move soon somewhere else in Manhattan. Maybe it’s better to get away a bit.”
For Israelis, the Halloween attack might bring back memories of Purim 1997, following the attack at Cafe Apropo in Tel Aviv, when the celebration turned into national mourning.
Not so in New York. Here, Shyli was not the only child on the streets around the scene trick-or-treating, and there were no thoughts of canceling the colorful Halloween parades around the city’s five boroughs.
New York celebrates, and Tuesday night it did so without speeches, apologies or explanations that this was the appropriate response to terrorism or their way of life. New York celebrated, period.
More than one million people attended New York’s annual Halloween celebration in Greenwich Village, a 10-minute walk from the scene of the truck ramming. It was also broadcast on TV and radio and produced nonstop streams of photos on social media.
In the wake of the attack, police blocked access from cross streets to Sixth Avenue where the parade took place, and along the route of the march a policeman was stationed every five meters.
Beyond that, however, there was no reason to think anything was different this year. Police allowed the marchers to smoke marijuana unhindered, and it was a carnival atmosphere for all ages.
“That’s the way it goes in America,” said Brad Haskins, who came to the parade from New Jersey with friends.
“We got hit by a terrorist attack, and then we party. You cannot live your life in fear.”
It was Jean Fleming’s 38th year as the artistic and production director of the central Halloween parade, and she said there was no change of plans because of the attack.
“New York City is an extraordinary place. I mean, in places where the police are less cool, where they’re less loving in a sense of the people – this would have been taken away tonight – no sense of what Halloween is all about. Because what Halloween is all about dancing in the face of death.
So, tonight, we did that. We fulfilled the very original, mythological, spiritual purpose of Halloween, and those kinds of rituals are what make a city livable, what makes a culture great.”