Remembering our first American Halloween

Halloween New York

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve found myself getting a bit nostalgic for the New Yorkers’ way of celebrating. Here’s the article I originally wrote back in 2014 about our first American Halloween…

Fall is celebrated much more in New York than our Autumn back in England. Shops stock golden-leaved wreathes from September, celebrating Harvest Festival, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Yesterday was our first American Halloween. It’s a really big deal here in New York. Even adults (mainly women) dress up. We passed several full-size witches and kittens on the way to school, and a guy in a rather alarming masked jumpsuit posing with a plastic axe in front of the Charging Bull. There was also a huge police presence, though we didn’t notice any more sirens than usual.

Just as in the UK, all the shops were festooned in the obligatory cobwebs, pumpkins, ghosts and vampires. But what I hadn’t expected was people calling out ‘Happy Halloween’ to each other on the streets.

T’s school, Blue School, had sent out emails weeks in advance reminding parents that no costumes were allowed, as each class would choose a theme and make their costumes together. T’s class were ‘Glow Squad’, and they spent all week painting glow-in-the-dark masks and pumpkins. They then did a little parade with black UV lighting, all the parents madly clicking away on their iPhone cameras. It was adorable.

B’s nursery, The Learning Experience Manhattan, went to the other extreme – all children were to be sent in with their costumes in labelled bags ready for their own parade. There were strawberries, pirates, fairies (B), Doc McStuffins, ‘Fame’ dancers, puppies, dinosaurs and several Frozen characters… it was brilliant. B is the only child in her class to have a sibling, so T was granted special permission to join the parade and after-party.

Battery Park City had asked residents to sign up in advance if they wished to host Halloween parties, so we were given a list of approved apartments in all the neighbouring buildings. We decided to stick to our own building as it was so cold, and the girls took turns picking apartments off the list. B was v alarmed by the bigger children’s costumes, and burst into tears when we turned a corner and met a werewolf, a skeleton and Queen Elsa. She started wailing “Bite! No! Bite! Cuddles!”, clawing at my coat to be picked up. The children quickly took off their masks, but B was unconvinced and made us leave the floor altogether.

Had made a deal with the girls that they could each choose four sweets from their bags (because T is three and B is one, you understand). Was quite proud when T worked out that if she and B shared, they could actually taste eight between them. They sat at the table, solemnly taking it in turns to bite off chunks of Tootsie Rolls. Their negotiation skills are getting better.

Drilled the girls to say “trick or treat”, but noticed none of the other children bothered, and just held out their fairly sizeable pumpkin buckets to be filled with handfuls of ‘candy’. So all in all, Halloween here seems to be less about the trick or treat, and more about the costumes and candy.

If you’re considering a move between New York and the UK, check out this removals company.

This week’s highs and lows:


Getting in to the brunch culture here – an old University friend of mine who moved here too is bringing her family tomorrow. Our very first brunch party.


A waitress telling me that the kitchen would not boil water to make a real cup of tea. She tried convincing me that grey, tepid tea costing $4 is acceptable. She failed.


Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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