Captain America and the Joker aren’t on the same side. They’re not even in the same (cinematic) universe. But on Saturday they and a few other heroes, super and regular, joined forces at the West 47th/48th Streets Block Association’s annual Children’s Halloween Party in Hell’s Kitchen Park.
Children in costume got an early taste of Halloween with a party that has become a fixture for the community, with plenty of serious dressing up done by adults, who even arrived in the kinds of transport reserved for superheroes (and supervillains.) And the real heroes: the organizers who’ve been bringing a taste of Halloween to local children for decades. This year, the celebration were supplemented by adults from the Da Real United Ryders with cars and costumes.
The party started 35 years ago in effort to reclaim the park from drug activity and prostitution for just a few hours. Times have changed in Hell’s Kitchen, but the spectacle of Halloween hasn’t, as Saturday’s joyful children proved.
“We’ve come a long way from those days … with a lot of work from the block association, Community Board 4 and other local residents,” Elke Fears, the president of the West 47th/48th Streets Block Association told W42ST.
So transgressive was the idea of a party for children at the park in 1987 that the New York Times reported on it, saying: “For One Day, Tiny Goblins Oust Dealers at Park.”
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“There were no clusters of bold drug dealers and addicts, or prostitutes in the bushes with customers. Instead, a host of tiny ninjas, winged fairies and blood-streaked witches ran about. On Halloween, several police officers were stationed at Hell’s Kitchen Park and the children could play,” the paper reported.
This year there wasn’t a police guard but there were superheroes, as well as the ordinary Hell’s Kitchen heroes who organize each year’s festivities. And at 5c, the lemonade stand was just as cheap as 1987.