Lou Reed to be Honored at 50th Annual Halloween Parade in New York City for Writing its Processional Anthem

Late singer, songwriter, and Velvet Underground co-founder Lou Reed will be honored as the posthumous grand marshal of the 50th annual Village Halloween Parade in New York City on Tuesday (October 31). Reed’s widow, avant-garde multimedia artist Laurie Anderson will also be honored and serve as the grand marshal of the 2023 parade.

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“I am going to use this violin in the parade, and we’re going to play a little bit of things with some really large drone sounds,” said Anderson of her planned entrance. “These are guitars with them set up against their speakers so that there’s a lot of feedback. So it’ll be this massive sort of beautiful overtones and harmonics.”

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Kow Lou Reed Wrote for Other Artists]

Anderson will help honor Reed, who died on Oct. 27, 2013, at age 71 after a lengthy battle with liver disease, and his 1989 song, “Halloween Parade,” which has become the anthem for the parade.

Released on his 15th album New York, “Halloween Parade” was a partial ode to the annual nighttime procession, but also honors friends and New Yorkers lost, particularly to AIDS, during the 1980s: This Halloween is something to be sure / Especially to be here without you … But there ain’t no Harry and no Virgin Mary / You won’t hear those voices again / And Johnny Rio and Rotten Rita’ / You’ll never see those faces again.

“It’s a memorial, in a way, for all his friends that he was missing who weren’t going to be at the parade,” added Anderson of Reed’s song. “They were dead, basically, and he wrote that in a kind of AIDS era, so it was a kind of memorial for them.”

Started on Halloween 1974 by puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee, who died in May of 2023, the annual parade has grown into the largest one in the world. This year, the parade starts at 7 p.m. and will travel north up Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 16th Street and will feature dozens of costumed revelers, hundreds of giant rod puppets, and marching bands, including New Orleans-based Young Fellaz Brass Band, who will lead the cavalcade for thousands of onlookers, who are expected to fill the streets along its route.

The parade theme this year is Upside Down/Inside Out, which reflects on a return to some form of normalcy in the city around the COVID pandemic.

“This year’s parade not only commemorates its own 50-year history,” said Jeanne Fleming, long-time director of the parade, “but also pays tribute to those lost to various events like 9/11, AIDS, and COVID, as well as those who have been part of the parade throughout the years.”

Photo: Julian Schnabel / PItch Perfect PR

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