By Josh Bisker
October 25, 2013
Every October, we salute several local community members for their the civic dedication and leadership by asking them to serve as Grand Marshals in the Children's Halloween Parade. We sat down with one of them, Melissa Aase, Executive Director of University Settlement, for a few questions about the parade and her involvement in the nearby community.
What's your connection to this neighborhood?
I have enjoyed working in the Lower East Side community for the last twenty-one years as part of University Settlement, first as a social work intern doing welfare rights organizing and now as the Executive Director. The community is so beautifully diverse, empowered and connected that even when we are working on the hardest social or economic issues, the work is deeply satisfying and new every day. It's been amazing to watch and be part of the constant evolution of our neighborhoods. Luckily, settlement houses are designed to be flexible and evolve with changing communities, so it all feels quite organic.
What's your favorite thing about Halloween?
Candy, of course!!! My daughter Lucinda would say face paint (after candy, of course).
Tell us about your all-time favorite Halloween costume.
Alter-ego costumes – trying on identities we don't get to be in normal life. Homemade costumes are inspiring and make me so happy, thinking about grown ups and kids working together to make them out of their imaginations.
Least favorite: sexy nurse / sexy everything costumes – has anyone seen a sexy social worker costume anywhere?!
How do you feel about parades? Have you ever been in one before?
Yes! I have been in many parades in my little hometown in Washington State, mostly in the marching band. (40 kids, loved the plumes on our hats and spats on our shoes!)
I have to admit I have never been to a large parade in NYC. Is that sacrilege? They are just much more fun to Be in than to watch from the sidelines! That's why I am so excited for the Children's Halloween Parade this year!!!
The 2013 Children's Halloween Parade Grand Marshals are Melissa Aase, Executive director of University Settlement; Mary P. Cheng, Director of Little Star of Broome Street Day Care; Mariam Ehrari, Chair of the NYU Student Senators Council; and Sarah Nielsen; Washington Square Park Administrator.