Jody Mercier

Jody Mercier

Jody Mercier's picture

When asked to illustrate her career goal as a first grader, Jody drew a picture of a mom with one kid on each hip and another clinging to her leg. All these years later, that is her reality, raising three kids in this crazy city. Since her dream job only pays in hugs and kisses, she has spent her professional career as an editor at SI.com, espnW.com and SportsonEarth.com, and also freelanced for Care.com.

Latest posts by Jody Mercier

15 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

When my son was a baby, I wondered if he'd ever know the joy of trick-or-treating door to door like his suburban counterparts. But over the years, I've learned that NYC really knows how to celebrate Halloween. There are a dizzying number of FREE Halloween celebrations, kid-friendly costume parades, and close-knit communities that dole out copious amounts of candy to trick-or-treaters.

For little New Yorkers, the holiday can sometimes seem more scary than sweet—or take place mostly after bedtime. So we've put together a list of 15 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Ease them in and enjoy the holiday fun while it lasts; they'll be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

For more Halloween happenings, check out our Halloween Guide and our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

The NYBG Holiday Train Show Returns with Tons of Updates in 2017

We may still be a few weeks away from Halloween, but the trappings of the holiday season have started to creep onto store shelves, and we're already anticipating one of our favorite seasonal traditions: the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

In 2017, the iconic skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan take center stage. The show, which opens to the public on Wednesday, November 22, debuts all-new replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew's Church.

Haunted Halloween Houses and Not-too-Spooky Walks for NYC Kids

Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.

Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween stapleLong Island and Westchester are rife with them. And while NYC has gained several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, those are for grown-ups only. However, there are a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.

You're sure to find spooky, family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair. But we're skipping those to tell you about the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other spooky attractions for kids this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings. While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers.

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Fall swimming lessons are on the horizon; the lottery for the first two-week session opened on Monday, October 2 at noon and runs through Monday, October 9 at 11:59pm.

Fall swim lessons will take place Monday, October 16, 2017 through Saturday, December 30, 2017. The mandatory water test for older kids will take place Saturday, October 14.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kid swim classesmommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those specifically in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Best Free Halloween Events for Kids in New York City

What's the one way to make a costume-and-candy filled Halloween celebration even sweeter? Make it FREE. In New York City there are so many no-cost fetes, we've decided to give parents a real treat: a roundup of FREE Halloween events for kids in all five boroughs, including big annual family favorites like Fort Greene's BAMboo! block party, the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park and the one-night-only theatrical spectacle at Brooklyn's Halloween 313 house.

So bring your trick-or-treat bags, but leave your wallets at home for these gratis happenings, and then check out our Halloween Fun Guide for details on the best costume parades, trick-or-treat spots, and other seasonal activities.

Central Park's Top Playgrounds Ranked for NYC Kids and Visitors

When out-of-towners ask me how I have managed to stay sane with three kids in Manhattan, my answer is always easy: Central Park. It's been our family playground for more than a decade. In fact, my son's first steps occurred there, and every day of elementary school in our house has started with a trek across the urban oasis, while our afternoons just don't feel quite right without a stop at the East 110th Street Playground, where my daughter finally conquered the monkey bars.

Central Park is our family's collective happy place, thanks in large part to its diverse array of playgrounds, which always keep us coming back for more (sanity saving) playtime.

In the spirit of our recent post ranking Prospect Park's best playgrounds, we present our top picks for Central Park.

Super Cool Kid-Friendly Art Coming to NYC This Fall

New York's world-class institutions are debuting some cool new art this season. From Michaelangelo to Snoopy and even butterflies and mummies, the kids will have plenty of museum hopping to do for those chillier days we've been promised!

Read on for 10 new exhibits worth checking out, including the brand-new National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey coming to Times Square area, and even an outdoor installation from Ai Weiwei, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

Ultimate Halloween Guide for NYC Kids: Parades, Costumes, More

For New York City kids, Halloween doesn't just take place on October 31. The entire month is filled with a terrifying number of costume parades, pumpkin festivals, and plenty of FREE Halloween happenings leading up to the big night of trick-or-treating. You think getting your kid to choose a costume is hard? Trying to figure out which celebrations to hit is enough to make you run screaming into the night, which is why we've rounded up the absolute best ways to get into the spirit of the season.

You'll find top picks for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and several fun family day trips to the nearby Hudson Valley and New Jersey. As always, we included only our favorite events, and many are FREE or inexpensive. To make sure your brood is truly prepared, we've also included info on where to get children's costumes and professional makeup done in NYC. Booyah!

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