Haunting the High Line with Freight Trains

High Line Talks Pumpkins, spiders, and spooky skeletons adorn the engine of the High Line Ghost Train, a giant puppet made by local public school students. Photo by Joan Garvin
 
EnlargeBoo

Later today, we’re joining local elementary school students from Public Schools 3, 11, and 33 for the second annual Halloween Parade on the High Line.

Leading the spooky procession will be the High Line Ghost Train, a giant puppet made by the students over the past month as part of the High Line Teaching Artist Halloween Program, an education initiative sponsored by AT&T.

Follow us after the jump for to learn more and view photos.

The High Line is not just a public park – it is a great tool to teach kids about New York City’s industrial history. The elevated railway has an exciting past that is full of storied characters to capture the imaginations of young visitors. The West Side cowboys, the meatpackers, the Nabisco bakers, the train engineers – these figures bring to life the High Line’s history as an active freight rail line, and this year they’re also the inspiration behind the High Line Ghost Train.

We asked local puppet master Ralph Lee, a High Line neighbor and one of the originators of the Village Halloween Parade, to join us again this year during a month of interactive arts workshops with students at the three public schools closest to the park. Together with High Line Educator Ian Harris, Ralph led sessions at each school and guided the students in making an 18-foot freight train puppet made out of recycled and found materials.

The freight train features three components – an engine, a storage car, and a caboose. Each school was tasked with constructing and decorating one of the cars with pumpkins, spiders, and skeletons made by the students. These skeletons represent the ghost of the High Line’s past. Freight trains ran at street-level on 10th Avenue decades ago, and there were so many dangerous collisions between trains and pedestrians that the street became known as “Death Avenue.” High Line Educator Ian Harris retold this spooky story to the students, and explained that the skeletons will come from the past of Death Avenue to haunt the High Line in celebration of Halloween.

High Line Talks Some of the students showing off their spooky skeletons inspired by ghosts of the High Line's past. Photos by Joan Garvin, Beverly Israely, and Melissa Mansur
 

Today the train car puppets come together for the first time on the High Line for a Halloween parade and school assembly, where students will also sing “I’ve Been Working on the High Line,” a modified version of the famous American folk song “I’ve Been Working on the Rail Road.”

While the Halloween Parade is only open to students, their families, and lucky passers-by, you can see the Ghost Train for yourself tomorrow during Haunted High Line Halloween, an afternoon of fun and spooky activities on the High Line. Come in costume for a spooky scavenger hunt where the West Side Cowboy and other characters from the railway’s past will be resurrected to hand out tasty treats. There will also be pumpkin decorating with Fulton Youth of the Future, face painting by High Line Youth Staff, live 1930s jazz music by Lady Acorn & The Band of Spirits, a dress-up photo booth, and more.

The fun begins at 11:00 AM. Get location and more event details

Don’t forget to tag your photos! While you’re visiting the park tomorrow, tag your Smart Phone photos with #hauntedhighline on Instagram. You’ll get a free Polaroid-style print to take home!

Class LEFT Local puppet master Ralph Lee, pictured on the left, and High Line Educator Ian Harris, seated at the back, tells the story of the High Line to students at Public School 3 during one of the arts workshops earlier this month. RIGHT Students decorated skeletons to add to the train’s storage car. Photos by Melissa Mansur
 

High Line Teaching Artists Halloween Program is sponsored by AT&T. High Line Education is supported, in part, by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and the Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation.

Recent Posts
Volunteer for the 2015 Snow Team
view post
Minutissimum Dwarf Lady Fern
view post