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Halloween

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Parents and their kids dressed up and came to the J. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point for the NYSC's drive-thru trick or treating event. Photo by Kyle Barr

North Shore Youth Council had a unique way for young people to dress up in costume and get their trick-or-treating on this Halloween, and all without risks presented during a pandemic of knocking on strangers’ doors.

NSYC hosted what it called its Super Safe Halloween Drive-Thru trick-or-treating event Oct. 31. Volunteers handed out toys and candy and otherwise showcased some of that classic spooky spirit as community members drove around the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point.

Employees and volunteers with the youth council said the event started as a way to help kids enjoy the holiday despite the pandemic. 

Nick Mitchko, Alexa Setaro and Tim Barone, who work with NSYC’s child care programs, were dressed up as the now-ubiquitous Marvel characters, Captain America, Captain Marvel and Thanos, respectively. Their plan, they said, was to “save Halloween.”

“During the mid-pandemic, birthday drive-bys became a normal thing, so we felt that doing it this way was the safest way to provide for kids who were missing out on Halloween,” Barone said. 

The nonprofit sold over 500 tickets for the event, but they weren’t turning away any families either. Families and their kids dressed the part, and as they rolled down the bus loop at the intermediate school they were greeted with volunteers who either put toys or candy in children’s outstretched bags or shared some spooky spirit. Two young volunteers and Rocky Point students danced their hearts out to some Halloween-themed music.

Mitchko said they were excited by the donations, as they’ve received everything from baby food to meals for Thanksgiving. Setaro said the theme of superheroes really made the point to the local community, with NSYC coming to the rescue for the floundering October holiday. 

“Us giving back to them, we’re giving them the feeling of going back to trick-or-treating again,” Setaro said.

Robert Woods, NSYC executive director, said that for several months it was unclear whether there would be anything like a usual Halloween. He was ecstatic to see the level of support from both volunteers and the community.

“We felt it was necessary, a necessary part of the community to do this,” Woods said. “The outpour was unbelievable.”

Admission was effectively free, but folks were asked that they bring some nonperishable food for NSYC to donate to the Island Heart Food Pantry, which operates out of the Mount Sinai Congregational Church, and the food pantry at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point. By the end of the day, the nonprofit, which supports local youth, saw over 500 families come through with almost twice that amount in donations for those local pantries.

The executive director said they had 70 volunteers, mostly youth workers, come out to support the nonprofit. Local parents and members of the board also donated much of the candy that was handed out to the beaming children. Members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps helped direct traffic in and out of the school.

NSYC wanted to thank Anthony’s Star Wars Barber Shop in Rocky Point as well as Stony Brook University Hospital Post Anesthesia Care Unit for their help in putting on the event.

Parents from all over Long Island have the hard decision of what to do with their kids on Halloween, whether going out trick-or-treating or finding something else to do. Stock photo

By Angela Palumbo

Halloween is looking scarier than ever on Long Island this year. Parents, costume shop owners, and even seasonal event planners have had to come up with new ways of having a successful holiday, all while dealing with the consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Halloween events have had to change their programs to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which has been a challenge. Seasonal businesses, including local ones, that usually thrive around Halloween have seen a decrease in customers. Local Facebook groups such as “Mom’s Group – Long Island” and “Northport Moms” are filled with posts questioning whether or not it’s safe to send their children trick or treating this year.

With the number of people infected on the rise nationally, the CDC has released a list of low risk Halloween activities to do this year to decrease the spread of COVID-19. This list has been a guide for local families who, despite the dangers, wish to celebrate Halloween.

Ronald Diamond, in front of his store, Ronjos Magic Shop, in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from Diamond

Costume stores and festive events are depending on the continuation of this holiday to stay afloat, and parents are determined to bring their children a fun and safe time.

Local Costume Stores

Ronald Diamond, longtime owner of Ronjos Magic Shop in Port Jefferson Station, has changed the way his business runs to ensure safety for himself and his customers.

“We have been health conscious for 46 years,” Diamond said. “Right now, the status quo is that there are no try-ons. You cannot try on a costume here anymore. We’re putting a pause on that until we get the clearance and the world is safe, and then we can go back to maybe trying on, or we’ll just continue to keep that, at this point.”

With the changes Diamond has made to his store, which also doubles as a CBD wellness shop, he has not yet seen a change in business this year.

“Right now, it’s too premature to tell, because people wait until the last second to make their purchases,” Diamond said. “The consensus that I got is people are having a party, and they are taking their children trick or treating. Is there a percentage that may not have a party? Yes. How big that percentage is, I won’t know until Nov. 5.”

With the pandemic being a concern for many costume shoppers, Diamond recommends purchasing a cloth face mask that matches the costume people are wearing, to avoid contact with the public.

“This way, you are still wearing a mask and you’re protected, and you can go to the party safely,” he said.

Ronjos is not the only local costume business that has had to change the way they function this season.

Last year, Costume America in Farmingdale rented out around 30 to 40 costumes for Halloween, an important season for their bottom line. So far this year, they have seen 10 rentals.

Costume America in Farmingdale has seen a significant drop in sales due to the pandemic. Photo from Costume America’s Facebook

“It was an extremely busy year last year,” said Shelly Brennan, office manager at Costume America. “The Halloween business did very well”

Not only has Costume America seen a drop in business since last year’s Halloween season, they also had to make changes to the way their store runs in order to try to keep up with CDC guidelines.

“If it’s busy in the store, there’s a sign that says not to come in and please call us,” Brennan said. “When people try on the clothes, we have to air everything out and wash it all.”

Spooky Long Island Events

The Spooky Walk is an annual fundraiser located in Center Moriches and has been around for 31 years. The event runs for two weekends in October; Oct 16 and 17, and Oct 23 and 24. The Halloween event is attended by thousands of locals annually.

The Spooky Walk’s goal is to raise money for Camp Paquatuck, a day camp for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Each year, this event has brought in the most money of all the fundraisers Camp Paquatuck hosts. With the importance of this fundraiser in mind, the executive director of the camp, Alyssa Pecorino, and the camps board of directors, has made it their mission to ensure the Spooky Walks remains, while following CDC guidelines.

“The Spooky Walk was created by the Paquatuck Squaws, which is a group of women who do nothing but raise money for the camp, which is amazing,” Pecorino said. “I think they made $1,000 the first year they did it.”

Now, the Spooky Walk covers a majority of Camp Paquatuck’s operating cost, with last year bringing in $240,000.

This year, with the pandemic changing the way all events run, the Spooky Walk was no exception. Instead of patrons walking through the campgrounds and being approached by volunteers dressed in costumes, the Spooky Walk has transformed into the “Spooky Drive Through.”

“Obviously we can’t have everybody together in a large crowd going through the entire camp,” Pecorino said. “This year we had to come up with something that allowed people to still do it, but in a safe way, and the idea was to have everybody come through in a car. This is the safest possible way to do it.”

Camp Paquatuck in Center Moriches normally hosts a Spooky Walk fundraising drive for Halloween, but has had to change this year due to the pandemic. Photo by Angela Palumbo

Changing the way a 31-year-old event runs did come with its challenges. How successful it will be could be impacted by the necessities of keeping people distanced.
“Normally, we get thousands of people who come through and they pay individually,” Pecorino said. “This year is by carload. Last year it was 20 dollars a person, this year it’s 45 dollars a car, so obviously the amount we expect to generate is going to be less. I’m not sure how much is going to come in, but realistically speaking we’re hoping for half, at least.”

Even though the camp is aware they may not make as much on fundraising at this year’s Spooky Walk compared to years prior, there has been an obvious demand for tickets and participation in the community.

“The first weekend it got very crowded. The last weekend we sold less tickets to make sure people don’t wait in line for three hours to get in,” Pecorino said. “There’s so many people that were excited to get in and participate.”

Long Island Parents

Long Island parents have been trying to decide how they will celebrate Halloween with their children since the beginning of October. Even though there may be disagreements on whether or not it is safe to go trick or treating this year, they all agree that they want their children to have an enjoyable, safe holiday.

Dee Santiago, a single mother to her almost three-year-old son Logan from Patchogue, will not be taking her son trick or treating this year.

“We will be doing an at home scavenger hunt and pumpkin carving,” Santiago said. “I feel like if he was older, maybe I’d try to figure a way out to allow him to go trick or treating, but since he is so much younger, I feel like he doesn’t get too much out of it anyway.”

Santiago stresses the importance of keeping her son safe during the pandemic, but also creating a state of normalcy around her home.

“We respect all around us. We wear masks. And if people choose not to participate, I’m ok with that and my son understands.”

— Dawn Miller-Silke

“During a pandemic I don’t want to put him in a bad situation, but I’m trying to make things as normal as possible,” Santiago said. “It’s hard. Not much is available for Holidays.”

Santiago is not the only mother keeping her child home this year. Nicole Oluwatoyin Lucas, from Baldwin, has a 13-month-old son who she will not take trick or treating on Halloween.

“My whole house had the virus when it first came out and I kept my son and myself healthy this whole time,” Lucas said. “I hope everyone who does it [trick or treat] is careful and safe.”

However, there are Long Island mothers who plan on taking their children out trick or treating this year. Both Dawn Miller-Silke of Kings Park and Jessica Joy Landsman of Lindenhurst want their children to experience as normal a Halloween as possible.

“This isn’t going away anytime soon,” Miller-Silke said. “So, we have a choice. Live, or don’t. We respect all around us. We wear masks. And if people choose not to participate, I’m ok with that and my son understands.”

Landsman will be taking her son Brayden out, but is keeping limitations on the Halloween experience.

“He really wants to go trick or treating, so I’m going to take him just to a few houses,” she said “Then, we will go home and give out candy. I still want him to experience Halloween and have fun dressing up. I’m going to try to make him wear a mask. My husband and I will be wearing a mask. As for giving out candy, I was thinking of giving them in little baggies or making a small little ghost hunt for the kids. But then again, we don’t know if kids will be trick or treating.”

COVID-19 has put an obvious damper on the Halloween spirit, but the community on Long Island isn’t letting that bring them down. Whether its events, costumes, or trick or treating, the celebration will continue, safely.

Angela Palumbo is a Long Island native and recent college graduate from SUNY Cortland with a degree in communications and journalism with a minor in professional writing. Angela is currently studying remotely at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism for her masters in journalism with a concentration in business and economic reporting. 

The challenge this Halloween will be adhering to guidelines while trick or treating. Stock photo

By Rob Calarco

In 1918, as the United States dealt with the Spanish Flu pandemic, cities across the country called on their residents to have a different kind of Halloween. At that time, the holiday was more of an opportunity for adults to have costume parties and for boys and young men to pull pranks and commit vandalism. During the pandemic, cities banned or discouraged these traditions and called on residents to be respectful of those who might be sick or have lost a loved one. Overall people observed these restrictions knowing that what they were doing was for the benefit of the community. The Buffalo Express reported on that year’s Halloween, saying “Hallowe’en revels lack the spirit of previous affairs.”

Rob Calarco

This year we are again asking Americans to be safe as they celebrate Halloween. COVID-19 is still with us, and while our infection rates do remain low, there is still a risk to us all. That does not mean we cannot celebrate all things spooky this year. We can still find creative ways to enjoy the day and take precautions to minimize potential spread of the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has characterized traditional trick-or-treating, where treats are handed to children who go door to door, as a high-risk activity. To avoid this risk consider participating in one-way trick-or-treating. This is when individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. Try to avoid placing large bowls of treats where children have to grab out of the same container. These treats can be placed at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard. You can communicate whether you are participating in the festivities by placing a sign on your yard. Also if you are wearing a costume mask, remember that it is not a replacement for a cloth mask. Instead consider incorporating a cloth mask into your costume this year.

If you are looking for a safe outdoor adventure, consider heading over to Southaven County Park in Yaphank, which has been taken over by Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse in partnership with Suffolk County. The Gateway has created a drive-through haunted trail experience called “The Forgotten Road,” which includes sounds and sights outside the car as well as a narrative that can be listened to over your car’s sound system. Additionally the Patchogue-Medford Library is offering a Halloween Story Walk. This is a self-guided quest for the entire family. You can pick up your map at the Children’s Department Information Desk during library hours or print your map and story questions from home at any time to navigate your way through Patchogue Village by following a story. Those who complete the quest will receive a Halloween surprise at the end.

With a different kind of Halloween celebration this year, it is going to take us all working together to keep each other safe. There are plenty of precautions to make sure that we all have fun while not contributing to the spread of COVID-19. By following these easy guidelines and doing more socially distanced activities, we can all do our part and stay safe.

Rob Calarco (D) is the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.

 

Tyler Posey and Donald Sutherland find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

Last week, I reviewed the movie Alone, a cat-and-mouse/abduction film. This week, we turn to Alone, a zombie apocalypse movie. This is not the Indian horror film Alone, which follows the angry spirit of a murdered conjoined twin. And it’s highly unlikely that it would be confused with the reality series Alone, that has been running since 2015.

So … this Alone (the zombie one) … is similar to the Korean film #Alive. This would make sense as #Alive’s screenplay was co-written by Matt Naylor, who provided the screenplay for Alone. Both seem to have been cribbed from the 2018 French film The Night Eats the World.

Which brings us back to Alone—the zombie apocalypse one. Director Johnny Martin and writer Matt Naylor have attempted to do something different, with mixed results. They get an A for effort and a B+ for creativity. The visual effects are okay if not spectacular; let’s say a B. Character development is weak even in its best moments — maybe a D+.

The film begins on day 42 of the apocalypse. Aidan (Tyler Posey, who appears in just about every frame of the film) has been video logging during this time, as he announces this to the camera. The next moment, he is seen trying hang himself. Then it flashes back to 42 days earlier, Aidan, sans beard, in bed with … someone. She sneaks out and is never heard from again. Clearly, she is not going to be a major player.

Donald Sutherland in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

He turns on the television to be greeted by the chilling Emergency Broadcast System.  Then all hell breaks loose. There are sounds of yelling and breaking glass; a helicopter crashes; people are running in the streets. A little girl is set upon by shrieking zombies.  His neighbor, Brandon (Robert Ri’chard), who he has never met, stumbles into his apartment; he was just attacked by his roommate. Thus, the set-up.

It is strange that it all happens at once — that there was no warning, no build-up. Especially as the talking heads on the television share that the virus is transmitted through the blood — scratches and bites.  You’d think there would have been some kind of change that led to total destruction … and not insta-zombies. But, these are the cards that we’re dealt.

Aidan realizes Brandon is infected and forces Brandon out as he transforms. He watches the destruction in his hall through the peephole and then just listens to the cries for help and the murderous attacks.

The next stretch involves the disintegration of the world as reflected in the one apartment building. Phone circuits go from busy to dead. Sirens. More yelling and screaming. The infected wander the halls, banging on doors. Aidan counts the days by marking his mirror with a pen. The last advice he gets from his parents before they are murdered (he hears this on a message) is to “Stay Alive.” He puts this on a post-it.

More information is eked out about the virus. The infected only eat living flesh that is uninfected. But, and most interestingly, the zombies are aware of their state. They alternate between attacking and begging for death. It is a struggle between the disease’s power and the victim’s residual humanity. At any given point, they could be demanding “Come here” or warning “Stay way” or begging “Kill me.” This is unique in zombie myth and lore and separates it from the shuffling, brain-eating corpses that have been more prevalent in past outings. There is also something about mob mentality that enters into it but it’s not really clarified.

The power goes out and food is low. Aidan kills a zombie and stuffs it in his bathroom crawlspace, wedging it shut with a surfboard. (Later, the same surfboard will be seen in two other places before he returns to the bathroom where it somehow had remained.)

Eventually, the timeline catches up to where we started. Just as he is about to kill himself, he spots a woman (Summer Spiro) — clearly alive and healthy — in the building across from his. What follows is probably the sole meet-cute in any zombie movie. And, as a bonus, she is surprisingly well-groomed given the whole end-of-the-world thing going on. (Well, maybe a few split-ends but what can you expect?) They begin to communicate with hand-written signs. She is Eva. Aidan and Eva. He holds up: “U R the 1st person I’ve seen.” The Aidan-Eva/Adam-Eve thing is not exactly subtle.

What ensues is their desire to connect and to be together, and it leads him to explore various ways of getting to her. It is during this foray that he meets Edward (the always intriguing Donald Sutherland). Is he good, bad, or just peculiar? The theme of “You take care of the people you love” comes out in an unusual way. Again, the creators’ approach is different and enriches both the encounter and the narrative.

There is mid-range gore which is not excessive but certainly present. (With this amount of ongoing and unchecked carnage and scattered corpses, there would probably be a lot more rot.) There are relatively few jump-out scares, which speaks well to the filmmakers’ restraint, and a handful of well-staged and tense mini-battles.

Where Alone stumbles the most is on actually understanding who these people are. Aidan offers a few pieces of himself that seem to be counter-indicated by everything around him. Eva is barely given a chance to show any range or depth. Both Posey and Spiro do the best they can, but we only invest in them as they are pretty much the last people on earth.

Alone is not the allegory of the low-budget but ground-breaking Night of the Living Dead. It doesn’t strive for the simultaneously introspective and epic nature of the adaptions of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (adapted three times). And it lacks the style and kinetic energy of 28 Days Later. But it does try to do something different. For effort and novelty, let’s give it a B- which is not the worst entry in the genre.

Rated R, Alone is streaming on demand.

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Like so many things these past months, Halloween is not going to be very traditional.  My thought is that since we’re homebound for the most part, why not make Halloween dinner a festive one? Make a  spooky centerpiece with black candles and small pumpkins, set the table with black and orange or Halloween-themed disposable tableware, put candy favors at each place and cook up any or all of the following recipes featuring black or orange ingredients.

Nothing is more orange than a carrot-ginger soup, and squid ink pasta or poultry, meat or fish with black rice (even though it may turn a little purple in cooking), is great for the occasion. So go rig up a costume, tie an apron over it and have a Happy Halloween.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Carrot-Ginger Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 to 9 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot or saucepan, warm oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, water, salt and pepper and ginger; bring to boil, then simmer until carrots are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes, then puree until very smooth in a blender, food processor or with an electric wand. Garnish with raisins or currants if desired and serve hot with dark pumpernickel and yellow cheddar cheese.

Squid Ink Pasta with Orange Tomatoes and Garlic

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

One pound squid ink pasta*, cooked according to package directions

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2  teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 orange tomatoes or one pound orange grape or cherry tomatoes

Coarse salt to taste

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

*Available at local specialty markets.

DIRECTIONS:

Whatever size tomatoes you are using, cut them into half–inch pieces. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil; add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and, as soon as garlic begins to release its aroma, add tomatoes and salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until they release their juice and skin starts to separate. Deglaze pan with white wine; as soon as it begins to bubble, add pasta and basil to skillet, toss with mixture and transfer to a large warm bowl. Serve hot with fish or scallops.

Chicken Thighs with Black Rice and Orange Peppers

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups black rice*, cooked according to package directions

12 ounces green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips

2 oranges, peeled and chopped

1 onion, diced

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 large chicken thighs

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

*Available at local specialty and  supermarkets. Sometimes called

forbidden rice.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Set rice aside to keep warm. In a large bowl toss the cabbage, bell pepper, oranges and onion with two tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper; spread on two-thirds of the bottom of a large shallow roasting pan. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken thighs with two tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper and arrange on remaining third of pan.

Roast, stirring veggies occasionally and turning chicken thighs halfway through cooking time, until veggies are tender and lightly browned and chicken is cooked through and browned, about 20 to 30 minutes. In a small bowl  whisk together the remaining two tablespoons oil, the vinegar, salt and pepper and mustard; drizzle over rice. Place rice on platter, top with veggies and place chicken thighs around it. Serve hot with a carrot and raisin salad.

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District hosted Pumpkin Mania, a fun Halloween event featuring professional pumpkin carving demonstrations by Ian Cinco of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers LLC and a carved pumpkin contest on East Main Street in Port Jefferson Oct. 17.

Photos by Barbara Ransome and Kyle Barr

Benner's Farm in East Setauket is open this weekend for spooky hayrides and pumpkin picking. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, East Setauket is open on Oct. 24 and 25 from noon to 4 p.m. for spooky hayrides and pumpkin picking. Take a tractor ride through the woods and see the fun Halloween decorations for $5 per person. Then head to the pumpkin patch and pick out your favorite pumpkin (60 cents per pound). For more information, call 689-8172.

A family trick or treats from store to store at Stony Brook Village Center. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Children and adults dressed as Disney, Star Wars and other iconic characters didn’t let some rain and strong winds keep them from trick or treating store to store in the Stony Brook Village Center Oct. 31.

Part of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s annual Halloween festival, in addition to trick or treating, attendees could participate in games and find out the winner of the annual scarecrow competition.

A a house on James Street in Shoreham saw trees fall on power lines and a vehicle. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr and David Luces

Gusts upwards of 60 mph struck Long Island Halloween night, bringing down trees and power lines across the North Shore and beyond.

A a house on James Street in Shoreham saw trees fall on power lines and a vehicle. Photo by Kyle Barr

The National Weather service reported areas like Stony Brook saw wind speeds as high as 74 miles per hour from at around 3 a.m. Nov. 1. Stony Brook records its weather data from the top of its Health Science Center at a height of 119 meters off the ground..

PSEG Long Island reported the day after the storm affected over 58,000 homes and businesses. Employees reported clearing 384 trees from wires.

As of 11 a.m. the following morning, the utility company reported 77 percent of customers’ power had been restored, with approximately 12,000 of 1.1 million customers from Long Island to the Rockaways were without service. Somewhat strong winds continued throughout the morning after the storm. 

The wind and rain spared trick-or-treaters the evening of Oct. 31, but many stayed home to avoid the worst of the storm. 

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and representatives of PSEG held a press conference Nov. 1 in front of the St. James General Store. 

John O’Connell, Vice President of PSEG Long Island, provided the latest update on its power restoration work. 

He said this morning PSEG had restored power to 47,000 customers out of a remaining 57,000. The majority of the remaining 10,000 affected customers will have their power by the end of the day, according to O’Connell. Work will continue into tomorrow for smaller jobs as well.

 

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Both children and adults beat the wind and rain and celebrated Halloween at the Port Jefferson Country Club Oct. 31. Photo by Kyle Barr

Despite gusting wind and spits of rain, some children still managed to hit the streets Halloween night for some old fashioned trick or treating. But for parents and their kids looking to avoid that, the Port Jefferson County Club opened its doors to people of all ages during its annual Halloween party.