Behind the Scenes: The Making of the Village Halloween Parade

Last fall Time Out New York sent me upriver to see where the giant puppets of the Village Halloween Parade are born. Every year, groups of volunteers are led by local artisans and master puppeteers, Jeanne Fleming, Alex Kahn, and Sophia Michahelles. Together in an old barn on the crumbling estate of Rokeby Farm in the Hudson Valley, the puppets are assembled piece by piece. This year paper-mache eyeballs are being plastered by the dozen, laying on colorful irises to be lit from inside for the 2011 procession's theme "i of the Beholder"

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

In the wonderfully eclectic home of Jeanne Flemming we see ghosts of year's past, old puppets and photos of parades arranged throughout. Alex Kahn is taking recordings of volunteer's eyes to be played via projectors on the back of masks.

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Another barn on the property is the storehouse-graveyard for all of their creations. Large paper mache skeletons dance across the sunlit attic, and faded streamers and costumes drape the ceiling beams.

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

After a hot supper around a smoldering bonfire, there's time for a walk along the property to the banks of the Hudson.

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm

Puppet-Making at Rokeby Farm