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Trick or Treat

Photo from TOB

The Town of Brookhaven has announced that the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center’s Suffolk “Barktoberfest” Howl-o-ween pet parade and costume contest will be held on Sunday, October 29 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Fireman’s Park, 724 Middle Country Road in Ridge. The parade is co-sponsored by the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society and Shirley Feed. Children are encouraged to come in costume, ready for Trick or Treating.

As part of the “Barktoberfest” celebration, there will be free adoptions at the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center on October 30 and 31. Free adoptions include free neuter or spay, vaccinations, microchip, license, FIV/FELV tested, flea and fecal.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is located at 300 Horseblock Road in Brookhaven. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information about the Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, please call 631-451-6950 or visit our Animal Shelter page.

METRO photo

Homeowners think nothing of having goblins, nurses, vampires, or astronauts showing up at their doors each October 31 asking for candy. Any other time of the year and these visitors might be turned away. But Halloween is all about the magical and the macabre, and trick-or-treating is a major component of the festivities.

Kids and adults alike cry out “trick or treat” at each house they visit. Many utter this familiar phrase without a second thought and may have no idea how this familiar custom came to be. During the Middle Ages, less fortunate individuals would go “souling,” which was a process of going door-to-door asking for food on November 1 in return for saying prayers for the deceased on All Souls Day on November 2.

Many centuries later, the tradition of “guising” began in Scotland around the same time of year. People began wearing masks and costumes to disguise themselves and prevent evil spirits from harming them. Spirits were thought to cross over more readily around Halloween. The custom also was called “mumming” and was celebrated in nearby England and Ireland as well. Costumes were eventually accompanied by hijinks. Mischief makers would sing a rhyme, do a card trick or tell a story in exchange for a treat. If that treat wasn’t presented, a “trick” could be played.

For 19th century children, tricks included jamming hot cabbage into a keyhole to stink up a house or frightening passersby. History.com indicates that when European immigrants arrived in America, they didn’t give up their annual mischief or requests for treats, and the custom spread throughout the early 20th century in the United States.

While the practice of begging for treats in some shape or form went by many names, Merriam-Webster reports that a newspaper in Saskatchewan, Canada first mentioned the words “treat” and “trick” together in print. A 1923 article indicated, “Hallowe’en passed off very quietly here. ‘Treats’ not ‘tricks’ were the order of the evening.” By 1927, more and more children were uttering “tricks or treats” to solicit candy from their neighbors. Trick-or-treating gained steam throughout the 1950s, with endorsements by major candy companies. The custom also was showcased in popular comic strips. Even though there are tricks to be made on Halloween, treats are the real draw of the day.

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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.

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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.

A creepy graveyard will be on the tour during the Haunted Hayrides at Benner’s Farm. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Rita J. Egan

Scaring up some Halloween fun isn’t tricky when you live on or near the North Shore of Suffolk County. However, beware; some activities are not for scaredy cats.

Those taking a hayride at Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, E. Setauket, will find that things will get a little spookier on Oct. 30 and 31. While visitors will find an array of static figures, including ogres, witches and ghosts, in the fields on any given day this month, the creatures will come alive on Halloween eve and day from 6 to 9 p.m. when the farm offers Haunted Hayrides.

Owner Bob Benner said the event is open to all ages, but he warns that the later the ride is, the scarier it gets. “We have had some people who have been really scared and other people who simply just enjoyed the ride a lot,” he said.

Mr. Benner said the farm staff, along with volunteers, play the creatures that can come out of nowhere and jump toward the hayride or unexpectedly scream. In addition, there are different tableaus, including the farm’s spooky cemetery, where visitors may witness a ghoulish figure up to something evil.

Mr. Benner said the creativity of those in the field always amazes him. “I never quite know what they are going to come up with in terms of scaring folks.” Rides, which cost $6 per person,  leave every 20 minutes. Visit with the animals and have a Halloween treat while you wait. For more information, visit www.bennersfarm.com or call 631-689-8172.

Over at F&W Schmitt’s Family Farm in Melville, 26 Pinelawn Road, a mad doctor who encountered a book of ancient texts has taken over. Visitors to The Haunted Mansion of Melville will encounter otherworldly creatures as well as various oddities during their spine-chilling visit.

Outside, those who dare can explore The Haunted Corn Maze where the physician dumps his patients who may or may not be dead. There’s also a high-intensity live stage show, “The Experiment,” that gives spectators the opportunity to witness some of the doctor’s experiments on his patients.

The show, which is enhanced with special effects, isn’t recommended for those with heart conditions or those who cannot handle intense situations. Tickets are $19 for the mansion, $11 for the corn maze, $5 for “The Experiment” and $30 for a combo ticket. Open Thursdays and Sundays 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. to midnight through the end of October. Visit www.schmittshaunt.com or call 631-271-3276 for information, including hours for their less scary, daytime show for children.

For more hair-raising Halloween moments, head over to The Darkside Haunted House at 5184 Rt. 25A, Wading River. The indoor and outdoor attraction, which spans over 14,000 square feet, features movie-quality sets and bone-chilling special effects. While The Darkside Haunted House is not recommended for children under 12 years old, an early matinee from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekend days, with the lights on and no live actors, is available for the little ones as well as the weak of heart. The Darkside Haunted House is open weekdays and weekends until Nov. 1. Tickets start at $18. For more information and hours, visit www.darksideproductions.com or call 631-369-SCARE.

For a tamer treat, join the animals at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown, during their annual Halloween Spook-tacular. Children are encouraged to wear costumes as they spend the day walking through the ghostly garden, and participating in the scavenger hunt, story time, crafts and sensory activities. New this year, visitors can travel the Jack O’ Lantern trail decorated with hand-carved and glowing pumpkins. The Spook-tacular is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $7 per person. The center will also offer a Not-So-Spooky Spook-tacular on Oct. 24 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. For more information, or to contribute a carved or uncarved pumpkin, call Eric at 631-979-6344, ext. 302.

Spooky stories will fill the halls of the museum of the Hallock Homestead Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead, during its Haunted Museum Tours on Friday, Oct. 30, at 4:30 p.m. More than 250 years of Hallockville Homestead dark secrets will be exposed, including the death of the Phantom British Officer.

During the tour, one may hear the hair-raising sobs of the broken-hearted Spectral Bride searching for her lost love, and guests may even encounter the ghost of the dishonest Regretful Rumrunner, doomed by his own poisoned drink. Based on historical fact, local folklore and urban legend, the tour was created by professional actress, costume designer and museum educator Colette Gilbert.

Beth Motschenbacher, assistant director, said this is the first year the museum is offering the tour. “I hope people enjoy seeing the historic homestead in a different light and learning a little bit more about the darker side of folklore,” she said.

Tours, which depart from the Hudson-Sydlowski house, last 50 to 60 minutes and run every 15 minutes until 7:45 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended. Geared for all ages, admission is $7 for adults and children age 10 and under are free. For more information, call 631-298-5292 or visit www.hallockville.com.