Trick-or-treaters will have more room to run around the city this year, thanks to an expansion of the Open Streets program that will see nearly 100 streets go car-free for Halloween. Not everyone, however, is thrilled.
The dozens of streets (see full list here) will be car-free from 4 pm to 8 pm on Oct. 31, announced authorities Monday — part of a multi-pronged and ongoing effort to designate more pedestrian-only zones for family activities across the five boroughs. See the list of Halloween Open Streets here.
“Trick-or-Streets is going to be an incredible night of safe, healthy fun, and community bonding for families across the borough,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said.
The announcement by DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and other city leaders was held in Queens where the annual Jackson Heights Halloween Parade will march once again down 37th Avenue. That kicks off at 5 pm
“As someone who grew up in apartment spaces without actually any parks, this has been a godsend to many members of our community, to me, to my neighbors and I cannot wait on Monday after the parade to be able to come here and enjoy with the children,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz.
Supporters of the Open Streets program said there has been a 42 percent drop in traffic crashes since its implementation in 2020.
But not everyone was thrilled by the city’s news. Boos and screams overshadowed Monday’s Halloween announcement as a handful of Jackson Heights community members aired their frustrations with the city program.
Speakers and hecklers went back and forth during the press conference trying to establish dominance ahead of a ribbon cutting to celebrate the road’s redesign into Paseo Park.
Bryan Barrett said he joined his neighbors angered by the difficulties they say closing the streets has caused first responders to access the area, as well as residents requiring Access-A-Ride vehicles.
“I view this as a slap in the face,” Barrett said, demanding more conversation with the city. “Open Streets has literally caused a divide. They put boulders in the streets, it’s hard for the emergency vehicles to get to the sick people .”
“The thing is we keep talking, we keep asking for compromise and they don’t want to do it and we’re tired of it,” Julia Maddox, another community resident protesting the streets program, said.
Not everyone in the neighborhood is against the city’s program or the holiday expansion. Robin Mitchell spoke with some of his neighbors, hoping to find common ground.
“I agree that human life has been impacted, but I think it’s been impacted in all the right ways,” he said. “I understand what people are saying about Access-A-Ride and the firetrucks, we totally need to make sure that Access-A-Ride can get to the people that need it. We can totally make that happen.”