Photos: Tea Partiers Have Gay Old Time

Photos: Tim Schreier
.Tim Schreier Nicolina Johnson

No, not that Tea Party, silly.

Hot on the heels of Saturday’s Halloween Dog Parade, the Mad Hatter Tea Party brought psychedelic costumes, stilt walkers, and free cookies to Tompkins Square Park.

Nicolina Johnson, the event’s main organizer along with The Free Art Society, said the annual event has doubled in size since it started three years ago. “The mission is to completely blur the line between spectator and performer, and bring people in to this world of magic and merriment that’s around them all the time,” said the artist. She and other organizers made extra hats in case people wandering by without a costume wanted to join in.

The crowd included people of all ages and hats of all sizes: Jillian Kimberling, 11, danced with her parents and younger sister. “It’s really cool. I really like all the costumes and the live music, and there are actually people portraying the real characters of Alice in Wonderland,” she said. Indeed the Mad Hatter and the March Hare started things off, and soon a six-person caterpillar began to wind its way through the crowd. The Queen of Hearts circulated authoritatively, stilt walkers danced, and an executioner dragged voluntary prisoners around behind her on leather ropes.

“It reminds me of Burning Man,” said Dee D. Baché. “It’s like our own little Tompkins Square burn.” Ms. Baché said she liked the inclusive nature of the event. “To be a participant and not an observer, I think it’s great. Creativity is still alive and well in the East Village.”

.Tim Schreier Lower Eastside Girls Club.

Local businesses Two Boots, The Bean, and the Lower Eastside Girls Club (shown at right) provided food and workspace for organizers and volunteers as they planned the Tea Party and worked on their costumes.

Wearing glow-in-the dark eyelashes and silver lipstick, Sonia Ramos said, “It’s always fun to do costume dress-up in public in the middle of the day, to see people enjoy and see their shock.”