Rainy weather fails to squelch Halloween festivities in Greenpoint

North Brooklyn Fall Celebrations Offer Smaller Scale, Community-Based Fun

October 26, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Costumed parents and kids fill Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, for the 13th annual Town Square Halloween Parade. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Day-long rain and chill winds failed to dampen a pair of Greenpoint community festivals this past Saturday, starting with the Greenpoint Town Square’s 13th annual Halloween Parade and Spooktacular. Families gathered along Java Street, parents helping their kids with last-minute touches to their costumes and makeup.

“So many Halloween celebrations are geared towards older kids and adults,” Town Square Chairperson Susan Anderson explained. “We’re trying to do something for families with younger children, that they can be an active part of.”

The procession ran a considerable length along Manhattan Avenue, all the way to Nassau Street and back again to the starting point. Many of the little devils and fairies who had set off walking returned in strollers or riding dads’ shoulders.

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The Town Square Spooktacular, held at the Polish and Slavic Center on Java Street, featured live music, pumpkin-crafting and face-painting stations. Watching her daughter, Chloe, undergo face painting, Robin Schambach, wearing classic ’50s cheerleader poodle skirt and pink sweater, recalled moving to Williamsburg with Chloe the year before: “We were looking for something more personal than some of the huge Halloween parties and festivals that go on all over,” she explained. “We wanted to connect with the neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, down the road at P.S. 110, the PTA’s annual fall festival had taken on a sinister tone. “We decided to focus on Halloween this year,” explained event co-chair Sarah Duford. “The kids really liked the idea of putting on a haunted house.”

Indeed, the hallways and classrooms of the Monitor School were packed with parents and kids, most of the latter in costume. There was lots to do. Nearly every classroom had been transformed into a spooky-themed contest or game, but everyone kept asking, “Have you seen the haunted house yet?”

“We reached out to Broadway Stages to sponsor us, and they asked, ‘How can we help?’” Duford recalled. “They made the haunted house possible. They had the props and a lot of technical know-how. We wanted something that would be effective for the older kids, but not too over-the-top for the little ones.”

Although the hour had grown late, a line of people still waited their turn in the school’s basement where the haunted house had been staged. It was mildly disconcerting to note that among the small groups exiting nearby, the adults looked more rattled by the experience than their kids.

Once inside, however, it was easy to see why. Designers relied on the classic haunted house motif of darkness combined with eerie sounds and dimly-lighted hints of things uncanny. Props, felt but not seen, suggesting spiders and maybe worse things, hung from the ceiling at grown up height. A man wearing 19th-century evening dress lurked from within an upright coffin. He glowered at the smaller kids as they passed by, but emerged menacingly only when the older ones followed up to the rear.

“What are you doing? What are you doing here?” exclaimed a woman moving quickly past the group. “Don’t you know that’s Count Dracula? Run for your lives!”

By then, the little ones had passed safely through, crawling along a psychedelically painted tunnel that led to the next chamber.

“This has been one of our best years,” P.S. 110 Principal Anna Cano Amato said. “I’m pretty sure this will be a record-breaking turnout.”

The annual fall festival at P.S. 110 is produced by the PTA to raise funds for the school’s arts and enrichment programs. Though final tallies for the afternoon hadn’t yet been compiled, school and PTA staff declared this year one of their most successful — in spite of inclement weather having forced some of the activities indoors.

“We’re going to do a haunted house every year now!” Principal Amato declared.

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