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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Vince Smith’s hair salon at 300 Rector Place was Halloween Central on Thursday. Almost non-stop from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., kids, their families and several dogs came through the open door where boxes of cookies and bowls of candy awaited them along with apple cider and sangria.
Some people came to have their hair and make-up done before they departed for Halloween parties. Others came to have their picture taken.
For a donation of $25, a professional photographer created portraits in front of a backdrop of bats and skeletons arrayed against a red sky. The salon raised $1,000, all of which will be donated to Save The Children, a charity that aids children in 120 countries including the United States.
Sponsors adopt a specific child who corresponds with them, but the money goes to help that child’s entire village with food, education, and medical care.
The money that Vince Smith raised on Halloween will be enough to help children in three villages.
The entire staff was dressed in costume. Smith was unrecognizable except for his blue eyes behind a monster mask that he created — though he said he wasn’t a monster, just a “dark angel come to do God’s work in the world.”
Jackie Paniagua, the salon’s senior stylist, was resplendent in a mermaid costume that she made. Others on the staff dressed as Superman, a harem girl, a Playboy bunny, a devil and a cat.
Smith said that Oct. 29 marked not only the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, but the 23rd anniversary of his salon on South End Avenue in Battery Park City. He’s been through a lot in those 23 years — 9/11, when he lost many of his customers, something that still haunts him, as well as the most recent storm.
“Perseverance,” he said, when asked to explain his longevity. His little salon has become an oasis of warmth in the neighborhood, where customers wave when they walk by and sometimes stop in just to say hello.
He knew most of the people who streamed through his door on Halloween. Most were customers but many had also become friends.
On the other side of Battery Park City, Asphalt Green at 212 North End Ave. also held a party. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., “Asphalt Screams” brought 1,600 people to the community center for games on the ball fields, cookie decorating and refreshments.
Carol Tweedy, Asphalt Green’s executive director, supervised the afternoon’s events in a stunning black outfit surmounted by a crooked, black halo.
Arts Brookfield had presented its Halloween event, “Screamin’ Green Halloween,” on Sunday, Oct. 27 in the Winter Garden and on the plaza with a haunted puppet mansion, a costume parade, games, sweets and treats.
Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer