The annual New Paltz Halloween parade returns on Monday, Oct. 31 for its second post-pandemic event in a row. However, this year’s edition of the parade will have a never-before-experienced addition: a march down one of America’s oldest roads, New Paltz’s storied and nationally recognized Historic Huguenot Street.
Located at about a 20-minute walk or a five minute drive from campus, Huguenot Street is considered by historians to be one of, if not the oldest street, still preserved and in use today in the United States. Founded in 1678 by a group of French Protestants seeking religious sanctuary from Europe, Huguenot Street is a rich center for artifacts and information from people who arrived and settled into this quaint upstate space centuries ago.
This year will be the very first time the New Paltz Halloween Parade tradition will make an excursion down the historic stretch of the town. For every prior parade, the marching band would begin the parade with a performance of the iconic Addams Family theme song in the parking lot of the New Paltz Middle School, where the marching band and other parade participants would assemble. The parade would then continue down Main Street before making a left by Chase Bank and eventually dispersing at the fire station located down the road from Hasbrouck Park and Van Der Berg. However, with the recent construction of the East of the Wallkill Emergency Operation Center, both the fire station and courthouse next to Hasbrouck Park have been rendered obsolete by the Village of New Paltz and are no longer in use by the town or emergency services.
Mayor of New Paltz Tim Rogers has been overseeing these recent transitions involving the relocation of the firehouse and rerouting of the Halloween parade. When asked whether the shutting down of Plattekill Ave firehouse was the cause of the new parade route he said, “That is absolutely the primary reason.”
“Historic Huguenot Street has also done a great job recently with other holiday festivities. It has always been a great community space,” Mayor Rogers said.
He explained that the reroute did not come out of nowhere, “Definitely not a sudden change. If you told me three or four years ago that’s what we would be doing I would not have been surprised. Also, our community enjoys meeting here all year.”
“It’s kind of our community park, everyone likes to go there for something. Some people go walk their dogs and ride their bikes. Things definitely opened up after we changed the driving rule for that whole stretch of road,” he said, referring to a 2016 town legislation to permanently close a roughly 500-ft stretch of Huguenot Street up to Broadhead Avenue to all vehicular traffic.
Mayor Rogers does not expect there to be any possible challenges with the usually jampacked parade going down a new route, “Our police do a good job of organizing the parade each year, there’s no real record of traffic problems or incidents during our parade,” he said.
The mayor also touched on the concept of the crowds of trick-or-treaters that will disperse in a completely new setting once the parade concludes, “It is an interesting dynamic.”
“We attract enormous amounts of people. I know the neighborhood next to where the parade will be concluding. It will be interesting to see what it’s like when the larger crowd disperses for trick-or-treating, but usually, things go smoothly.”
If you’d like to participate in the parade, head down to New Paltz Middle School at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.