Tags Posts tagged with "Halloween"

Halloween

Time to make a scarecrow

Last year’s submission from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library titled ‘Old Mother Goose’ Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. This will be the 28th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.  

Official entry forms will be available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main St., second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com. Categories are divided into Previous 1st place winner/Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 28 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will be announced at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival on Oct. 31. 

Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244.

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization presented its 27th annual Halloween festival at the Stony Brook Village Center Oct. 31. Children were able to trick or treat from shop to shop, enjoy pumpkin painting, games and crafts.

A scene from 'Dracula' 1931

By Kevin Redding

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t enamored with Halloween and, by default, horror in general. It could be argued that my birthday falling in late October has something to do with an obsession with the macabre, but I can’t help but think it goes way beyond that.

When I was very young, I became infatuated with a couple important things — one, the work of Tim Burton (specifically “Batman” and “Beetlejuice”), so much so that the only guaranteed remedy to silence this curly-haired toddler’s wails was putting one of his movies in the VCR. I’d sniffle my last cry and watch with attentive giddiness at the Gothic sets, whimsical dark humor and cast of weird characters. The other early influence in my life was Charles Addams — the longtime Westhampton Beach resident, renowned cartoonist for The New Yorker and, most importantly, creator of “The Addams Family.”

Around age 4 or 5, one of my uncles gifted me with a large book called “The World of Charles Addams,” a sprawling tome that contained hundreds of pages of the cartoonist’s famously humorous, creepy artwork and comic strips centered around the grotesque, the misfitted, the spooky, and altogether ooky.

For years my eyes were glued to that book, and I have just about memorized each and every one of its black-and-white and full-cover drawings at this point. It was the first time I remember being truly swept up by art and storytelling — his spooky settings, characters and sensibilities captured my imagination like nothing else before — and it inspired me to put pen to paper and create my own characters and stories, tapping into an artistic, creative side that has followed me into my mid-20s.

The Burton films and “The Addams Family” movies I devoured at this time served as great gateways to the more hard-core horror titles I discovered a few years later. One summer, as I was relaxing before the big move to fourth grade, my cousins and I, joined by my aunt and uncle, gathered around the TV in their living room and watched the original “House on Haunted Hill,” that hokey and wonderful Vincent Price classic.

It would be the start of a weekend tradition, dubbed Saturday Scary Movie Night, wherein we watched scary movies from a bygone era, namely the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Up until this point, I don’t think I was really exposed to old horror (I loved all the classic monsters but really only knew them as toys, lunch boxes and cartoons … I didn’t exactly know where they came from).

A scene from ‘Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’

I remember watching “Frankenstein,” “The Wolfman,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” “Nosferatu,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “The Birds.” I loved them all, and they gave me a real appreciation and adoration of old movies and the art of filmmaking in general. After these viewings, I always seemed to go to sleep unscathed, at least until we watched “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi, which haunted me and led to my first and only sleepwalking escapade. I was scared by it, but also mesmerized by it. From then on, I was hooked. If a movie was scary or had monsters in it, I had to watch it.

And horror is what really got me interested in reading. Entranced by the freaky covers of “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine, I consumed any of those books available to me, either from the school or public library. As I got a little bit older, I gravitated toward Stephen King, whose books I ate up — especially “The Dead Zone,” “Firestarter” and “Four Past Midnight” — and served as incredible textbooks on how to craft tension, drama and likeable fictional characters. It would be his memoir/advice manual for budding writers, “On Writing,” that sealed the deal for me for what I wanted to do with my life.

So, naturally, Halloween has always meant so much to me. I mean, as a kid, I already walked around in a vampire’s cape and that was in the middle of April, so to have an entire day/month wherein that fashion choice is socially acceptable and encouraged? Sign me up.

Me as Fester

As a kid, I was definitely an oddball and not exactly brimming with confidence. I didn’t have a torturous childhood, but I was certainly on the outskirts of my peers. In the first grade, I had curly hair and I was missing my front teeth, which paved the way for lots of jokes. I was also quiet and painfully shy and never quite knew what to talk about with others, and so, I looked to fictional characters like the Addams family for an escape. I even went as Uncle Fester for Halloween one year, in a really great handmade costume (Thanks mom!), complete with light bulb in mouth. It was a beautiful thing, and I point to horror as being what helped me come out of my shell and feel okay with who I was. For those of us who have ever wanted to hide or escape or be someone else for a day, Halloween is the day that encourages that.

It’s the one day a year when the weird, creative and imaginative parts of ourselves can be unleashed without any hesitation; it’s a celebration of human fear, of community and the art of pretending. And seriously, in this world we’re living in, couldn’t we all use a day of pretending?

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According to medium Lisa McGarrity, Port Jefferson is a hotbed for paranormal activity. Image by TBR News Media

Along East Main Street in Port Jefferson, tucked between a plumbing company and a parking lot, sits a tiny, two-story shop where Lisa McGarrity communicates with the deceased.

A new age store stocked with spell and magic books, a variety of incense and herbs, and a private space for tarot card readings, Envision Crystal has provided a spiritual avenue for residents from Port Jeff Village and beyond since 1987 as both a place for healing and closure, as well as exploration of macabre curiosities. McGarrity, a psychic medium who first discovered her necromantical gift as a child when she witnessed spirits roaming around her house, is the shop’s third owner and said there’s a reason why there’s no shortage of customers coming to her for advice on how to handle and interact with members of the afterlife.

Lisa McGarrity is the owner of Envision Crystal magic shop, and works as a medium in Port Jefferson Village. Photo by Kevin Redding

“Port Jefferson is so filled with spirits,” said McGarrity, who recalled several encounters with former, deceased village residents over the years. “I feel that wonderful energy of sea captains, people who grew up and worked here, musicians, merchants. There are a lot of psychics in the village because the energy here is conducive. I think spirits want to be here because it’s home. They want to visit and hang out.”

In fact, the medium said, as the occupant of a historic home in town, she “has had friendly conversations” and sometimes shares her morning coffee with the gentleman who built her house long ago. While she used to be able to see these spectral visitors crystal clear as a child, McGarrity said now it’s more of an impression, a feeling, a sense. She described the sightings as  being “a little sharper and clearer than a mind-wandering daydream.”

Coming from a family of psychics and intuition-driven people, McGarrity, who studied psychology at Stony Brook University, said she’s never found this field all that unusual, but, growing up, thought it best to keep her interests in it hidden from people.

“When I was young, I learned to separate it and talk about regular world things with people and leave that other world alone,” she explained. “Things have changed now and we live in a world that’s much more open now. I was born with this curiosity and a desire to explore. I mean, I think what I do is super normal and something anyone can do if they want to pay attention to it. Some folks can sing. I’ve cultivated, developed and expanded what was a natural gift.”

St. James resident Andrea Giordano, a longtime customer of McGarrity’s shop, who developed a strong bond with the medium during a reading session, spoke highly of her friend’s gift.

“What she does is get people connected,” Giordano said. “It’s not about money here. It’s about spirit, love, compassion and open mindedness. It’s universal humanity at its best. If you have faith in anything beyond this world, she helps reinforce that faith. If you don’t have faith when you walk in here, you leave here with faith.”

‘I think spirits want to be [in Port Jeff] because it’s home. They want to visit and hang out.’

— Lisa McGarrity

McGarrity said, especially around this time of year, people often come into the shop on a mission to encounter ghosts in and around the area. For the budding paranormal investigators, the medium offers tips and advice — she stresses the importance of exploring in groups and with an experienced guide, equipping one’s self with protective stones and sage, which work to cleanse negative energy and drive away darker entities, and, most importantly, displaying respectful decorum.

“The same rules with any human interaction applies when interacting with spirits,” she said. “Start out nice, introduce yourself. That works well. Don’t go to a haunted location and shout out derogatory and inflammatory things.”

Only a few minutes away, on Barnum Avenue, is the site of McGarrity’s occasional spiritual seminars: an 1890s-built, gothic-style home full of “incredible, wonderful energy,” according to its owner, L.L. Cartin. During one particular seminar, a few Halloweens ago, McGarrity said she led a group of spiritually-minded participants with electronic voice phenomenon equipment through the house. The EVP, which picks up sounds caused by ghosts, went off when they stepped into the basement.

“I remember in that particular moment, I was a little scared to sleep here,” laughed Cartin, who identified herself as a spiritual person who met McGarrity as a customer. “She’s a very gentle soul, she’s not pushy, and she definitely has a gift. She’s one to be admired and her delivery is very gentle so you can receive her information the right way. I love Lisa and I think she’s an asset to the community.”

Halloween has always seemed like an opportunity to explore the creatively terrifying parts of our imagination. We put up ghosts, goblins, skeletons and spiderwebs around our houses; we dress our children as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and zombies; and we jump out from behind bushes, yelling “Boo” or “Happy Halloween.”

Maybe, instead of indulging the frightening side of life that seems present almost daily, we should take this opportunity to develop wouldn’t-it-be-nice costumes.

For starters, we could dress our kids, or ourselves if we’re in jobs that allow us to come to work in costume, as giant, dirty hands. When asked to explain ourselves, we could suggest that we’re helping hands, willing to get our hands dirty to help those in need anywhere. This includes Puerto Rico, where people are still without power and are seeking to meet basic needs such as food and water. It also could include a co-worker dealing with an illness or death in the family, or an injured neighbor who can’t get his recycling to the curb.

While we’re at it, we could dress as a door with a giant lever people could pull to knock. What are we? We could be opportunity. Every day presents an opportunity to become what we wish, whether that’s someone who can and will lose weight, or someone who sets an incredible example for our children and for other people’s children, or someone who no longer stays silent when he or she sees any type of injustice, whether that’s discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Maybe, we could send our kids out as giant ears. They could become the great listeners. We have so many aspiring great speakers who share every thought in their head, whether that’s online, in a tweet or on a TV show, scoffing, pontificating and second-guessing everyone and everything. What does a great listener do, besides absorbing the deluge of thoughts coming his or her way? That person imagines the ideas and motivation behind those words, considers the hurt or vulnerability that those ideas might convey, and thinks of ways to change negative thoughts and behavioral patterns into something positive and inspiring.

Extending the auditory idea, we could also send our kids out in togas with a bucket of fake ears. Why the togas? They could be Romans. Why the ears? Just ask Shakespeare, whose Mark Antony exhorts a crowd in Act III, scene ii of “Julius Caesar” with the opening line, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

We could encourage children to listen and read one of the greatest and most often cited speeches from Shakespeare, helping them learn about the power of rhetoric and the passion of ideas. The older children might even suggest that they are a walking example of praeteritio, the literary technique Antony uses when he suggests he’s not going to discuss that which he shares in great detail, namely, the recently deceased Caesar’s contributions to Rome and its citizens.

For those who need something with a shriek component, we could create a costume in which someone dresses up in everyday clothing. An individual could hold a small cage or a tight box containing whatever horrifying image that person imagines in connection with a disease. He or she could suggest that the disease is contained and that this illness, which is locked in a box, is being taken for a walk. As a result, a horrifying disease is minimized and contained.

Finally, we could cover our kids in the kind of headlines we’d like to see, including “Peace breaks out all over the world,” “Children cure cancer,” “Bullying takes a day off,” “Endangered species recover from the brink of extinction” and “Leaders agree to work together.” What would we call such a costume? Fake news.

Above, the cast of ‘A Kooky, Spooky Halloween’ at Theatre Three.

By Heidi Sutton

There’s something kooky going on at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. As a matter of fact, there’s something spooky going on there as well. In perfect timing with the upcoming holiday, the Children’s Theatre presents a brand new musical treat, “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” through Oct. 28.

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, the adorable show emphasizes the importance of telling the truth and helping others. Skillfully directed by Sanzel, the talented cast of eight adults embraces the brilliant script and, with plenty of audience interaction, presents a wonderful afternoon of live theater.

The cast sings ‘It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast’

Ghost Abner Perkins (Dylan Robert Poulos) has just graduated from Haunted High School and awarded a medallion of invisibility. His first assignment is to be the spooksperson on Halloween for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, “the most haunted house in Harrison County, USA,” which is also known for serving the best toast. There’s only one problem — Abner is afraid of the dark. “It’s like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!” quips his friend Lavinda (Jessica Contino), a good natured witch, before presenting him with a night-light to wear on his hat. Lavinda promises to help Abner with his haunting duties for the first few days.

When they arrive at the boarding house, they come upon Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, and her boarders, Kit Garret (Meg Bush) and the Petersons — Paul the periodontist (Steven Uihlein), his wife Penelope (Nina Moran) and their son Pip (Eric J. Hughes), whose alliterations using words that start with the letter P are perfectly prodigious!

As the sun sets, Abner plays silly tricks on the unsuspecting group, making them stuff Halloween goodie bags in double time, exercise, sing, dance and get stuck to each other. Things are going hauntingly well until fellow graduate Dora Pike (Elizabeth Ladd) shows up. A ghost with a grudge (she was hoping to be assigned to Ma Aberdeen’s boarding house), Dora steals Abner’s night-light and medallion out of revenge and makes her way to Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world (where it’s really, really dark).

Dylan Robert Poulos and Jessica Contino star as Abner and Lavinda in the show.

Now visible, Abner convinces the boarders, who are still stuck to each other, to accompany him and Lavinda on a quest to retrieve his property. Will Abner be able to overcome his fear of the dark? Will the two ghosts be able to reach a compromise?

From the first number, “A-Haunting We Will Go” by the entire company, to the downright creepy “It Will All Fade to Black” by Dora, and the catchy “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast,” the original songs by Steve McCoy are the heart of the show. Utilizing the set from the current Mainstage production, “The Bridges of Madison County,” the show features excellent choreography by Nicole Bianco. Ditto the costumes by Teresa Matteson.

“A Kooky Spooky Halloween” is the perfect show to get into the spirit of Halloween and a wonderful way to spend a fall afternoon. But be forewarned — for some strange reason, you’ll exit the theater having a craving for toast! Meet the cast in the lobby for photos on your way out.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. with a sensory-sensitive performance on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with one intermission, and Halloween costumes are encouraged.

Children’s Theatre will continue with everyone’s holiday favorite, “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 and “Rapunzel — The Untold Story” from Jan. 20 to Feb. 24. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. Sponsored by The Suffolk Center for Speech and Myofunctional Therapy, Samuel R. Taube, Sharon Doyle, J. Robert Quilty and Roseland School of Dance, this will be the 27th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.

As in the past, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all scarecrows decorated with a majority of pink will receive 50 bonus points toward the competition. Official entry forms are available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main Street, second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Categories are divided into Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 29 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will receive cash prizes awarded at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival, beginning at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31. Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Residents from all over the North Shore spent the weekend and Monday celebrating Halloween and dressing up in their spookiest costumes.

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By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Halloween is a fun time of dressing up in costumes and getting a whole bunch of free candy. I’ve even taken to dressing up Jasmine, our Labrador retriever, in new costumes every year. Here are a few tips to make sure this and every Halloween is a safe and happy one for your pets.

Candy and chocolate poisoning

Chocolate is more poisonous to pets than any other candy.
Chocolate is more poisonous to pets than any other candy.

Chocolate is dangerous for two reasons. First, it contains the chemicals caffeine and theobromine. Both of these are stimulants in the methylxanthine class. Halloween is one of the few times a large bowl of candies, many containing chocolate, would be left out. Signs usually begin within 6 to 12 hours after ingestion and include panting, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination. Severe cases lead to irregular heart rhythms, seizures, coma and death. Second, chocolate is very high in sugar and fat. Most cases will only give your pet a tummy ache. However, I have personally seen a few cases of serious gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea), pancreatitis and liver disease from ingestion of large amounts of chocolate and other candy.

Stomach and intestinal obstructions

Dogs and cats (especially young ones) are more likely to eat a costume than wear it. I have both seen and heard from colleagues pulling out portions of a witch’s nose, small scarecrow teddy bears, etc. Anything with stringy attachments or tinsel are potential obstructions for cats. Candy wrappers and packaging can become wadded up in the stomach or small intestines. Any of these items will cause intense pain and vomiting or avoidable (and expensive) surgery. As much as we want to make ourselves or the house look scary, please make sure to keep all things out of reach of curious pets.

Fears and phobias

Consult with your veterinarian if your pet is afraid of loud noises or many people coming to the door. There are a few cases where we have instituted anti-anxiety medications weeks before Halloween. However, many times a mild tranquilizer is all that is needed for the single holiday. Always have your pet examined by the veterinarian (especially older pets) before administering these medications.

Malicious injuries

Make sure your pets (especially with cats that go outside) are in for the night early. Unfortunately, we do see malicious acts toward animals increase on this particular holiday. I hope this information is helpful in providing a safe Halloween environment for our pets.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office.

Glazed Autumn Leaf Cookies

Cooler temperatures, beautiful changing leaves and the familiar scent of pumpkin pie spice are all signs of fall. Whether you’re hosting a pumpkin carving party or decorating sweet treats with family, celebrate the season with pumpkin patch cupcakes and maple-flavored leaf-shaped cookies.

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes
Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

YIELD: Makes 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened

4 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

2 boxes (16 ounces each) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature — Assorted Food Colors, divided 1/2 teaspoon Berry color from McCormick Color from Nature — Assorted Food Colors, divided

24 unfrosted cupcakes

12 regular marshmallows, halved crosswise

12 small chocolate-flavored taffy roll (Tootsie Roll), halved crosswise

DIRECTIONS: Beat butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. Remove 2 cups of the frosting into medium microwavable bowl. Tint frosting orange using 1 teaspoon of the Sunflower color and 1/4 teaspoon of the Berry color. Set aside.

Tint remaining frosting green using another 1/2 teaspoon of the Sunflower color and 1/4 teaspoon of the Berry color. Spread top of cupcakes with green frosting. Using a fork, gently touch frosting in different directions to resemble grass spikes. To make the pumpkins, microwave the orange frosting on HIGH 10 to 20 seconds or until runny. Using a fork, dip marshmallow halves into frosting mixture, then place on top of frosted cupcakes. Let stand until pumpkin frosting has dried. Press a Tootsie Roll half in center of each pumpkin for the stem. Decorate leaves and vines with remaining green frosting, if desired.

Glazed Autumn Leaf Cookies

Glazed Autumn Leaf Cookies
Glazed Autumn Leaf Cookies

YIELD: Makes 36 cookies

INGREDIENTS:

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons maple extract

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 F. Mix flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and maple extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Roll dough on generously floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out leaves with 2- to 3-inch leaf-shaped cookie cutters. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

To glaze cookies, hold a cookie by its edge and dip the top into the glaze. Place iced cookies on wire rack set over foil-covered baking sheet to dry. Let stand until glaze is set. For the variations below, dissolve the designated amount of the Color from Nature Food Colors with water in small bowl. Stir in any remaining ingredients until smooth.

Maroon Cookie Glaze: Use 1/2 teaspoon Berry color from McCormick Color from Nature — Assorted Food Colors, 3 tablespoons water (plus additional to dissolve color), 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.

Forest Green Cookie Glaze: Use 1/2 teaspoon Sky Blue color and 1/4 teaspoon Sunflower color from McCormick Color from Nature — Assorted Food Colors, 3 tablespoons water (plus additional to dissolve color), 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Cookie Glaze: Use 1 teaspoon Sunflower color and 1/4 teaspoon Berry color from McCormick Color from Nature — Assorted Food Colors, 3 tablespoons water (plus additional to dissolve color) and 2 cups confectioners’ sugar.