Tag Archives: Halloween in the Park Hasbrouck Heights

Day Two Hundred and Five Halloween Returns Part II: The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest” & The NYC Halloween Parade October 31st, 2021

We held the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association First Annual ‘ Halloween House Decorating Contest’ on Halloween morning. I had come up with the idea last year but because there was not time to put it together, I brought the idea up to the Men’s Association at our October meeting. I had another volunteer help me out with the assistance of his daughter and in a three day period we canvased the town and came up with about ten houses each.

We then narrowed it down to five each, four of which we had picked the same houses. So on the Monday night before Halloween, we visited each of the five houses and chose the winner. We narrowed it down to three houses and then the three of us with the help of our President and his wife, picked the top house. It was a difficult decision until the final night when we visited 253 Henry Street last and saw all the ghosts and ghouls coming out of graves, vampire children playing on a swing and things that go bump in the night crawling around. This was the home of Scott and Logan Vicario.

When I knocked on his door later that evening, he was really excited about winning. Scott Vicario had told me that, “We love Halloween and we love decorating the house for the holidays.” Some of the pieces he had on the lawn looked like film set pieces and he said he ordered these items online and kept adding to his collection. What won it for him was all the ghouls trying to escape from the graves that actually moved around. It was creepy and fascinating at the same time.

Halloween Morning:

In the early morning, I met my aunt for breakfast in Wood Ridge, NJ and we planned the whole morning out. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast Halloween breakfast at Blue Café at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ.

Over a platter of French Toast and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a roll and her ordering an omelet (See my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), we plotted our day of picture taking and showcasing the winners homes for the contest. You have to try their French Toast. It is amazing with all the cinnamon.

Blue Café is the former “Lucky Larry’s” at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ

https://www.facebook.com/happyhealthycafe/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46937-d23716548-r815895779-Blue_Cafe-Wood_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/615

Breakfast at Blue Café is delicious. After we ate, it was off to present the awards.

On Halloween morning, we presented all the Honorary awards to the runners up and then presented the main plaque to Scott and Logan at noon. They were very excited and turned on all the props so that we could see them one last time. It was pretty amazing.

The winners:

Scott and Logan Vicario of 253 Henry Street in front of their lawn of horror

Justin Watrel, Chairman of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest”, Scott and Logan Vicario and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Member and Judge, Pat Fass. We presented the award at noon on Halloween afternoon.

253 Henry Street was place of Ghouls and Zombie’s and things that scare you!

The decorations on the Vicario’s front yard are quite terrifying

After I finished presenting the award to the winners, I had to revisit the runners up so that we could take their pictures as well. It amazed me that so many people were not up at 11:00am in the morning. I had some time before I had to leave for Manhattan to volunteer for the Halloween Parade and I presented these awards with my aunt who was helping me take pictures that morning.

The runners up were 510 Henry Street, 85 Woodside Avenue, 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue. The homeowners at 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue were not home that afternoon and I returned to drop off those awards another day.

510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights

510 Henry Street is owned by Mary Rose and Henry Blunda who were thrilled when they were Honorary Runners-up in the contest. Their front lawn was covered with displays of phantom riders, zombie’s and ghosts covering their lawn. “We love the holiday,” Mary Rose said. “We do this for kids,” her husband Frank added.

Mary Rose and Frank Blunda in front of 510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights

Over at 85 Woodside Avenue, there was a large display of the undead walking all over the front lawn and crawling up the sides of the house. This fascinating display was creating by Lisa and Matt Fiduccia who were thrilled to be Honorary Runners-up in the contest well. Them and their two children who were preparing for an afternoon of Trick or Treating when they found out about the award.

85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The family very proudly took a picture in front of their creation. “We have a lot of fun with this on Halloween,” the couple said. The lawn seemed to come alive on Halloween morning as the sun shined on zombies and other undead walking the property.

Lisa and Matt Fiduccia and their family outside 85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The two Honorary winners were 257 Central Avenue with its interesting display of skeletons and undead crawling out of graves. The most interesting part of the display was the skeleton lemonade stand.

257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The home is owned by Barbara Donaigo, who we were able to give her award a few days after Halloween when she was home. “I love Halloween and decorating for it,” she told me when I presented her the award for her home.

The macabre skeletons in front of 257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The last home in Hasbrouck Heights to be awarded for its creative design was 82 Burton Avenue. Although the house was not decorated from head to toe, it was the displays that it did showcase plus the way the house was lit in the evening. The house had side windows similar to the “Amityville Horror” house with red lights shining through them.

82 Burton Avenue pays homage to the “Amityville Horror”. Notice the side windows

82 Burton Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights during the day

The witches outside 82 Burton Avenue guard the door and bubble, bubble

The family who owned the house were never home in the three tries so I left their award at the door. During the day, you would not have noticed it but at night the house had a mysteries glow to it.

After we finished handed out the awards with a little ceremony for each, I left for New York City to work at the Halloween Parade which I have been doing since 2014. I have been Marshalling the Performers Gate with my ‘cousin’ Mark (our families both have Colonial roots and our families had married into each others about four times 150 years ago so I tease him and call us ‘cousins’) for six years (we did not have the parade last year because of COVID-See Halloween Night 2020 on this blog).

‘Cousin’ Mark and I (the ‘Aristocrats’ at the gate of the Halloween Parade at Dominick Street) in the West Village

The weather could have not been nicer that day as it was about 68 degrees when I arrived at the parade route at 4:00pm. It started out very quiet as the volunteers arrived to check in but progressively got busier as the performers arrived for band and float assignments.

The Halloween Parade was a lot of fun this year. It was so nice to see the City come back to life for at least a day. People really came out for the parade since it was a beautiful day in the high 60’s. I was wearing a short sleeved polo until about 8:00pm. It ended up being 68 degrees that night, Not quite the 71 degrees of two years ago but still a warm night to be outside enjoying a parade.

We did not have any real problems at the gate and were finished with our assignment by 8:00pm. As we closed the gate and left the police in charge, I walked into the staging area and watched the last of the floats head uptown. It is so exciting to watch as the parade comes to life at this location. It is always so chaotic.

The beginning of the Halloween Parade is the best with the Skeleton puppets

What made this Halloween really special is that everyone was so happy to have a good time. All over New York City and the island of Manhattan, people felt they were allowed to go outside and enjoy the day.

People flooded cafes, restaurants and bars all over Lower Manhattan and Midtown and everything was so busy with people enjoying outdoor dining even at 9:00pm and mobbed every fast food restaurant and pizzeria. I have never seen so many smiles and so much joy in people’s faces as they enjoyed the warm weather and comradery on Halloween night.

Isn’t this what Halloween should be about even in the era of COVID? Still have safe fun?

The full Halloween Parade in 2021 in Greenwich Village

Giggles the Scarecrow

Day One Hundred and Eighty-One: The Legend of “Giggles the Scarecrow”-Halloween continued October 31st, 2020

Every October my neighbors decorate their home to the hilt on Halloween and every year they drag out this strange scarecrow out among their other decorations. I tease my neighbor that it looks like it wants to “rape and pillage the neighborhood”. I just think the thing looks mischiefest. She just laughs at me.

So over the years I have named this decoration “Giggles the Scarecrow” and created a story line for him:

“The Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”:

“When bad boys and girls come to our neighborhood on Halloween Night ready to perform more tricks then treats, Giggles will come to life and grab’em. He will then take’em away to his haunted home in the woods. Hee, Hee, Hee.”

Okay, I had a lot of time on my hands to think on Halloween Night. It is the era of COVID.

What do you think? Do you want to test the “Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”?

Giggles the Scarecrow

“Giggles the Scarecrow” on Halloween day in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Marshaling at the Halloween Parade

Day Ninety-Six: This is Halloween! New York & New Jersey Style! October 31, 2017

Halloween again?! I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. Ever since July 4th, it has just accelerated again. I have never seen time fly so fast. Every year the same thing, once the July 4th weekend is over, you blink your eye and there is Christmas again.

I have never been a great fan of Halloween when growing up. I must have been the only kid who hated trick or treating (like begging) and dressing up for elementary school parades (I thought that they were stupid and a waste of time). It was not until I became an adult and got to celebrate in non-conventional terms that it became fun for me. I always liked the occult side of it and look at it from the way the early Celts did with a ceremonial celebration. This is why I participated in more unusual events.

In researching many of our historical sites and museums in Bergen County, New Jersey where I live, I came across many events that the museums were sponsoring leading up to Halloween. I was impressed by the uniqueness of the events and the response to them. I was lucky to get in because everything sold out so quickly. All of these events lead to the big one, the Halloween parade Halloween night.

Halloween starts for me in Hasbrouck Heights with the town’s Annual Halloween in the Park, an event that takes place each fall in Woodland Park in Hasbrouck Heights. First thing to note that since developers have built new condos on the parks edges, it has taken some of the allure from the park. You can see the lights and people moving around.

The DPW takes families around the park in hayride fashion with bales of hay in the trailers and everyone on the trailer is chased and harassed by various ghosts, ghouls and witches. You spend most of the evening being chased with someone with a knife or chainsaw. This popular event is always sold out and residents get such a kick out of it. I of course was working that night and got there in time for the last two rides and people were still screaming at 9:30pm.

Halloween in the Park

Halloween in the Park in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ in Woodland Park

I started the next part of the Halloween celebration at The Schoolhouse Museum (see VisitingaMuseum@wordpress.com for more details and review on TripAdvisor) 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood, New Jersey for the Annual Cemetery Walk on October 20th. Usually I am not keen on walking around cemeteries at night but this was a unique fundraiser for the museum. In fact, for a small museum there was a sold out attendance with more people wanting to go on the tour. The museum ran the walk around the cemetery for only one night and all the walks were packed with families with a surprising number of small children who seemed to love the idea of walking around tombstones.

My tour was the last one of the evening and it was already getting dark by 6:00pm and I was on the 7:00pm tour. The staff at The Schoolhouse Museum could not have been nicer and the volunteers both there and at the cemetery could have been more engaging with the crowds. We started our tour with a ghostly talk in front of the museum by Ridgewood Historian, Joseph Suplicki, who gave a quick tour on the well-known residents of Ridgewood who were buried in the cemetery.

We proceeded as a group (which had ballooned from 20 people to 36 people as more people showed up then there were places so they came on our tour) walked in the dark across the street to the Valleau Cemetery, which is between East Glen Avenue and Franklin Turnpike, one of the original Colonial roads in Ridgewood. We all thought we would be walking in the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery next to the museum but they later told us that there were insurance problems with doing that.

Off our troop trekked across the street to a lantern flank paths through the cemetery to well-known residents  of Ridgewood’s burial sites. It was interesting as many of the local residents who were business people that schools and buildings were named after were pointed out. What the interesting twist was to it was they had students and members portray the person buried there and did a bio on the person and their contribution to the town.

Ridgewood Cemetery Tour II.jpg

The Cemetery Tour

I have to say that I give many of the actors credit for playing the roles they did because that meant staying by the grave site until the event ended and that meant being along for about twenty to thirty minutes by a tombstone. I would have thought it was creepy. Our group followed the lanterns on the paths deeper into the cemetery to hear all sorts of stories.

We visited the graves of various movers and shakers in the town of Ridgewood over the last hundred or so years including many who had streets and schools named after them. The most interesting actor was the lady who portrayed Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantz, who was the last owner of The Hermitage (The Hermitage Museum that is located up Franklin Turnpike from the cemetery), who was left penniless in the end while the house crumbled around her in the 1970’s. The actor told the story of her prominent family and the demise of the family fortune. Having visited The Hermitage in the past, it made it more interesting to see where she was buried.

The tour of the cemetery ended in front of The Schoolhouse Museum where we joined the staff for ghost stories and fresh apple cider and apple cider doughnuts that had been donated by Demarest Farms in Hillsdale (See TripAdvisor review). That was the best and people so happy for snack after the tour.

Schoolhouse Museum Ridgewood.png

The School House Museum in Ridgewood, NJ

This interesting and engaging tour is offered by The Schoolhouse Museum in the middle of October and should not be missed. For the $10.00 donation for the tour, it is well worth the visit. On the weekends, check out their current exhibitors. The museum mounts wonderful shows. The museum is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and Sundays from 2:00pm-4:00pm.

Another interesting Halloween event I attended was The Hermitage House Museum’s Annual Midnight Tour and Séance on October 30th. The Hermitage House Museum at 335 North Franklin Turnpike in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ is featured on my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum@wordpress.com’ and I have visited the museum several times during the year (See review on TripAdvisor). The house was the home of Theodosia Prevost and her second husband, Aaron Burr, when they married in 1782.

Hermitage at Halloween.jpg

The Hermitage Mansion at Halloween

The evening featured a 10:00am ‘ghost tour’ of the house and a séance at midnight to start Halloween day. Frankly, I thought the thing was over-hyped. I have toured the house twice and have never seen or felt anything but hospitality in the house. I arrived at The Hermitage House Museum at 10:00pm on the dot after I gave my Midterm to my class (I am currently teaching business students at Bergen Community College), so I was already tired. Listening to someone including the tour guide, who was a medium, talk about a house being haunted made me a little skeptical since the price for the event was $50.00.

Taking a night tour in a creepy old house was interesting and the Hermitage is steeped in so much history that I seriously suggest taking the tour in daylight and enjoy the grounds. The families that have lived here bring so much to the story of the house. The original owner of the house had invited General George Washington to stay at the house in response to the fact that her husband was fighting on the side of the British and she did not want to loose her home. Marrying Aaron Burr helped as well.

The next family that owned the house expanded it and lived in it for almost a 100 years. It became the modern New Jersey version of ‘Grey Gardens’, when the last owner ran out of money to run the house and the whole place overgrew. She ended up sick and when she died she left the house to the State of New Jersey.

With a history like that, you would think that you really might see something. All I saw was an over-weight bullshit artist who worked everyone up. I admit I would not like to spend a night alone in an old house like this but he got everyone so worked up that I believe that people thought they were seeing things. It got to the point where he kept asking everyone if they felt a cold spot or did they see a shadow. The house was old and drafty, that’s it. I got a kick out of one women saying she saw a rocking chair moving by itself and then another women walk by it and the loose floor board moving it. She looked embarrassed.

The worst was when we entered the parlor where Mary Rosencrantz, the last owner of the house, along with her sister and aunt used to serve tea during the 20’s to raise money to keep the house up. We all sat around the room in a semi-circle trying to communicate with the dead. All he did was rattle off a bunch of names and types of people he felt might be in the room. He was called out when he said someone named “Rose” was trying to reach him and then asked us did anyone know a ‘Rose’. When one guy said he did and it was the name of his 93 year old grandmother, the medium practically swooned and asked when she died. He answered that she was alive and living down the street from him. That almost crushed the medium.

For the price of the event and the time of night it is at my suggestion to anyone wanting to visit The Hermitage Museum is to visit it during the day and take a formal tour with a docent for $7.00 and enjoy the house for its history and beauty.

The highlight of Halloween for me is volunteering for the Halloween Parade in NYC. That is a lot of fun and its a comradery builder working with all the other volunteers. This was fourth year working on the parade and I am assigned working the gate where all the volunteers and performers walk through to check in. I have never seen so many people try to bullshit their way into the parade. They just want to see the parade from our route. I have to turn angry people away every year and do they get nasty. Is it my fault there is a major parade going on and you can’t get to a party three blocks away?

The Halloween Parade took even a weirder twist when we had a terrorist attack just a few blocks from the parade route. Some guy took a truck and ran down joggers and bikers on the park path a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. I was shocked when one of the guys from the FDNY pulled me aside at 5:30pm to tell me. Even though it had happened a few blocks from the parade nothing beats down a New Yorker. They show resilience and the parade continued as if nothing happened. Like myself, if no one had said anything I would not have known.

Halloween Parade 2016

The Halloween Parade

The parade route was mobbed with people and I have to say that the costumes are getting more creative every year especially this year. There were a lot of ‘Dump Trump’ signs all over the parade route including many people dressed like the President doing all sorts of strange things. (I have to admit I may not agree with all the things he says but he is still our President and should be respected.)

There were all sorts of political undertones to the parade as there always are such as the Gun Lobbying Zombie’s, The ‘Dump Trump’ characters, all the LGBT groups fighting over the problems they are having in the military and comments over the immigration policies. I have not seen this much political rhetoric since the ‘I am peach Bush’ costumes that I saw about nine years ago. People were saying their piece this year.

I have also seen a bump in foreign tourists as they kept asking where things were located and did not know where Canal Street was located.  Some said they came to New York City just to see the parade. I was floored by how many  families brought their children all the way to the U.S. to see the parade. It was an exciting site to see all the bands, unusual costumes and towering puppets. There were skeletons and serpents on the parade route. The puppet makers go above and beyond when it comes time for the parade. The dancing Pumpkin people were new to the parade added that air of creativity to the event.

I usually end up watching the full parade on YouTube but I get to see the parade from the ground up. By working the gate, I get to see all the people in costume coming into the route. Ever since the 20th Anniversary of  the ‘Thriller’ album, the ‘Thriller’ dance routine has gotten bigger and I swear they get so into it. We have dancing zombies all over the place. I see so many bands going through the gate and everyone comes in at once. I swear the three of us saw so much that night.

The Thriller Dance:

So here is my Halloween experience this year. Full of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. BOO!

Happy Halloween!

(For those of you who are reading this and want to be in the parade next year, please go to Canal Street to line up. Don’t come to the gate and drive us crazy. We are busy enough.) Use the Number 6 subway to get to the parade route.

The Halloween Events:

 

Halloween in the Park

Every second week of October in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Check out the Hasbrouck Heights Recreation Department Website

 

Old Schoolhouse Museum

650 East Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ 07650

RidgewoodHistoricalSociety@verizion.net

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46772-d10353516-Reviews-Schoolhouse_Museum-Ridgewood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1528

 

The Hermitage Museum

335 North Franklin Turnpike

Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423

http://www.thehermitage.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46514-d10356697-Reviews-The_Hermitage-Ho_Ho_Kus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1566

 

The Halloween Parade is every October 31st in New York City lining Sixth Avenue

(The picture is of the three of us working the gate. Mark Schuyler and I are twelve cousins once removed by the marriage of Mark’s GGG Grandfather to my GGG Grandmother, who was a member of the Beekman family by my Step-Grandmother. We like to kid around a lot about it.)

The Halloween Parade 2017: