New York City got an early Halloween surprise: A superstorm!

It closed down the stock market and the subways, but that city is nothing, if not resourceful.

I remember one time, years ago, when there was an incredible blizzard in New York City–people were strapping on their cross country skis in order to navigate the streets.

Whitley and I had "cabin fever," so we left our apartment and went out for a stroll. In suburbia, one would see downed trees, but what we saw was a walk/don’t walk traffic signal lying on the ground, where the wind had blown it over (still on and still flashing, in a kind of desperation). You don’t realize how BIG these things are until you’re close to them.

A few RESTAURANTS were even open, and we inside one that seemed warm and cozy and had a nice lunch, before we entered Central Park and saw even more skiers. I had never realized how many New Yorkers had skis tucked away in a closet for an annual trip to the mountains.

As we walked along, we noticed odd-looking lumps of snow lined up along the curbs, then realized that these were people’s parked CARS. Nobody in a big city owns a snow shovel, so none of the car owners dug their vehicles out, and besides, it would have been impossible to find another place to park.

Meanwhile, dirt and trash blew onto those snowy "car lumps" and got stuck there, and dogs peed on them. I imagined that the owners would have been able to identify which car was theirs by recognizing the trash that adorned it, but at least nobody came along and stuck a parking ticket on top of that mess.

When the melt finally came, the streets turned into rivers. I used to have a pair of L.L. Bean rubber hunting boots that I bought to wade across the street on days like that. I wore them easily in Greenwich Village, where I lived, but I didn’t hesitate to wear them in more upscale parts of the city, as well: They certainly weren’t fashionable but they WERE waterproof, and whenever I nonchalantly walked through 3 inches of water in them, while everyone around me was doing the "New York City long jump" across the deep puddles at every corner, someone would always come up and ask me, "Where did you GET those?"

One of the saddest things about Halloween coming so close on the heels of this superstorm is how it may affect that most wondrous of events: The Village Halloween Parade. When my son was a kid, he and a friend created a cardboard car they could wear while they walked along together (one of them was the driver and the other one, the passenger). They even outfitted it with lights from an electrified Lego set.

The first year they wore it in the parade, they painted it to look like a yellow cab, and were thrilled when people waved at them at cried, "Taxi!" The following year, they decorated it to look like a police car, but that was the last year the costume worked: After that, my son had a growth spurt, while his friend didn’t, so the car was too "tilted" for them to wear together anymore.

After Halloween was over, I carefully stored that little car on the top of a "cage" that each tenant had in the basement of our building, ready for next year’s parade. When we left that building, I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so I left it up there. I’m sure the person who purchased our apartment discarded it, but I couldn’t bear to do it myself.

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  1. Lovely entry and it makes me
    Lovely entry and it makes me feel for the people affected by the storm. A funny and tender post. Thank you.

  2. What a sweet-heart little
    What a sweet-heart little tale! Misted me up a bit…

  3. Halloween has always been my
    Halloween has always been my least favorite holiday, but this diary made me change my mind!

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