Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween in NYC

I decided to spend Halloween in New York because I miss my friends and I love the parade. I had planned a costume, Joan from Mad Men. I arranged a place to stay, with my friend Madrid. I scheduled a take-home test for my students (Halloween is traditionally a low-attendance day, anyway) and hopped on the bus to NYC. A friend from the MFA department, Jesse, was coincidentally on the same bus, so I even had someone to talk to on the long ride.We got into the city around 7 a.m. and grabbed breakfast. Then I went to Madrid's for a nap. Her hubby, Chris, was home, and post-nap we grabbed lunch.

Then it was time to get costumed-up. Joan is known for three things: Her pen necklace, her red hair, and her figure. I donned some strategic padding, pinned my hair in a sixties hairdo and threw on a vintage dress and accessories. I had died my hair auburn the day before, but it didn't turn red enough, so I added some red spray-on color. (In natural light it looked more natural, but in flash photography, it looks more punk-red. Less authentic, but still fun.)

I met up with Madrid, Jenny, Irene and several of their teacher-friends for drinks. Jenny and Irene were 80s prom murder victims. Madrid was Professor Minerva McGonagall from Harry Potter. We spent hours talking. Then everyone went their separate ways. It was fun, but I must admit, I thought to myself, "Wow, that was a long, pricey bus ride just for drinks at the local bar." Everyone except Carolina had even baled on watching the parade with me.

I couldn't find Carolina anywhere. Our phones kept cutting out. There were so many people between me and the barricade that I could barely see the parade. Then, I got a text from Carolina explaining that she had accidentally ended up in the parade (more on that later). I managed to sweet-talk a police officer into opening a barricade to let me in. When I finally found her, we were giddy with relief. Our giddiness only increased when we ended up on a float.

To truly understand how I spent Halloween, first I need you to watch the first five minutes or so of this. (If you're in a hurry and want to fast-forward to the good parts, "Danke Shoen" starts at 0:45. "Twist and Shout" begins at 2:37 and ends at 5:18.)

Who doesn't see that scene from Ferris Beuller's Day Off and think, "That looks so much fun! I'd love to be part of something like that!"

Now watch this. There's no sound, but we were shakin' it up, baby. (I'll post a better video at a later date if I can find it online.)

I'm the one in the red dress. My friend Carolina is the German Beer Wench on the right.

Two NYC artists, Mina Karimi and Kara Suhey, decided to recreate the parade scene from the movie, recruiting thousands of people to help. Carolina's costume just happened to match the girls on the Project Beuller float. When Carolina got shoved into the parade, it gave me an excuse to get into the parade. ("Officer, my sister is in there, and I have to find her!") Hee.

"I wish we were on the float," Carolina said. So we approached a barmaid and asked her about it. Her reply: "Sure. If two people get off, you can get on, as long as you dance." We waited for our moment, hopped on and joined in the dancing. It didn't take us long to pick up the official dance moves. First we waved languidly to Danke Shoen, then we twisted and shook, singing along to "Twist and Shout." Well, you've seen the clip, so you know the routine.

Even when the sound system shorted out for a while, we kept singing and dancing. At least it was working when we went past the TV cameras (for NY One, I think?) According to NBC New York, 2 million people watched or participated in the parade. Dancing on the float was the most fun I've had in a long time, and it is one of my all-time favorite New York moments.

The next day I spent some time with Madrid and Chris (watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog). Then I met up with Lex (one of my best friends from the Teaching Fellows) for brunch. She's in a Leadership Academy to become a principal. When she gets her principal gig, it will be amazing. She says she'll still teach at least one class a semester, so that she never loses sight of what it's like to be in the classroom. God bless her!

Then I hopped on the Chinatown bus back to Virginia, knowing my weekend in NYC couldn't get any better. Save Ferris!

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