For Halloween, Queens brings out its ghoulish best

For Halloween, Queens brings out its ghoulish best
Borough ghouls are getting ready for the big night.
Photo by Tammy Scileppi
By Steve Barnes

With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, the holiday gets three days to stretch out, with activities filling up the entire weekend. Whether you want to brave the terrors of a haunted house, wander through a mysterious corn maze or suit up the family pooch for a canine costume celebration, there’s bound to be something going on in the borough that will let you express your inner trick or treater.

At Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, this year’s Halloween Harvest Festival Saturday will have a circus theme—which includes costume making, a large-scale collaborative sculpture workshop, face painting and roving performances by such traditional circus acts as jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers and clowns. Plus, special prizes will be offered to any circus-themed dogs in the Annual Juried Canine Costume Contest. The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there’s no charge. For more information, call (718) 956-1819 or go to socratessculpturepark.org/program/halloween

The Harvest Festival will be the ending point for another family-friendly event on Saturday. The third annual Zombie Ride, hosted by Make Queens Safer and bicycle advocacy group Kidical Mass NYC, will meet at Gantry Plaza State Park at 10 a.m. and pedal for about 7 miles through Astoria and Long Island City before ending at Socrates. Along the way, bikers can stop at Smiling Hogshead Ranch for snacks and do some trick or treating at area bike shops. Kids should be capable riders age 7 or older. Everyone is encouraged to dress up in their Zombie best for a fun day. For details, call (917) 251-0024 or go to Kidical Mass NYC’s Facebook page.

Another chance for your pet to get its moment in the spotlight will be taking place Sunday morning at Little Bay Park, when the Friends of Fort Totten put on their Halloween Dog Costume Celebration. Going from 10 a.m. to noon, the runway for this fashion competition will be the park’s dog run. Prizes will be awarded. To find out more, call (917) 353-3813.

Fort Totten Park will be the setting for several other celebrations over the weekend. From noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, their Halloween Festival is offering up a spooky, fun-filled afternoon, featuring crafts, games, rides and music. And after dark on both Friday and Saturday (from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.), the Urban Park Rangers will guide intrepid explorers through the haunted Fort Totten Water Battery in a Haunted Lantern Tour. Participants need to arrive before 8 p.m., and while strollers are not allowed, stroller parking will be available. For more information about Halloween events in the park, please call Mike Kuchinskas at (718) 352-4793 ext. 302.

Saturday is also the date for the 2016 Maple Grove Trunk or Treat, in the Victorian Monumental Park Section of Maple Grove Cemetery. In a Trunk or Treat, volunteers bring decorated vehicles and park them in a closed-off area. They open their trunks, or the backs of their vehicles, and then the trick-or-treating begins, running from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., as the owners of the decorated cars pass out candy from their trunks and have people view their artistic efforts. The event will also include a community food drive, in which people are encouraged to bring canned goods that will be given to a food pantry. All participants should use the Lefferts Boulveard and Kew Gardens Road entrance. For more details, call (347) 878-6614.

The Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park is getting in on the ghoulish side of Halloween, too, with a Haunted House that promises to frigthen visitors from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. While this adventure is recommeded for thrill seekers between the ages of 6 and 12, the museum says that adult visitors are sure to find it creepy enough to merit a visit.

Kids will also have plenty to do at the museum’s Children’s Fall Festival Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. From hayrides to bounce houses, a seasonal petting zoo, live country music and pig races, the festival has something for all kids—of all ages. This weekend is also the last chance to experience the Amazing Maize Maze and Pumpkin Patch. Admission to the Haunted House is $4; the Fall Festival costs $5 (free for Farm members); the maze is $10 for adults, $4 for kids 4 to 11 and free for kids 3 and under. For more information, call (718) 347-3276 or go to queensfarm.org/events.html

Over at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, Sunday’s Halloween at the Garden will run from noon to 4 p.m. Partcipants can make a seasonal botanical craft, see a magic show, and meet and take pictures with Flora, QBG’s mascot. Guest artist Manual Macarrulla will show how you can add Caribbean flair to your Halloween costumes by making a carnavale mask. Halloween at the Garden is free with garden admission (adults, $6; seniors, $4, students with ID, $4, children 4 to 12, $2; children 3 and under, free; members, free). For more information, call (718) 886-3800 or go to queensbotanical.org.

Shocktoberfest! will take over Flushing Meadows Corona Park from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. This event includes a pumpkin patch, inflatable playgrounds, crafts, games, music, and more. Sponsored by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), Shocktoberfest! is free and all are welcome. To find out more, call (718) 760-6560.

The park’s Albert H. Mauro Playground will be the setting for a Halloween Scavenger Hunt Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. After meeting up at the beginning of the Pat Dolan Trail, participants will follow a spooky Halloween map and pick up stickers along the trail. There will be prizes for those who complete their map and Halloween treats for all. Costumes are encouraged and all children should be accompanied by an adult. According to the organizers, it takes an adult approximately 20 minutes to walk the majority of the map, but participants should plan to be on the trail for at least an hour. For more information, call (718) 544-7436.

In Mexico the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a major holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for others who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. It also, suitably enough, coincides with Halloween.

Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. the Queens Museum, in collaboration with Immigrant Movement International and the residents of Corona, will be holding a big Day of the Dead celebration at Corona Plaza The party will include food, dancing, singing and rituals to celebrate an altar, decorated and built by members of the Corona community with support from artist Daniel del Valle. For more information call (718) 592 9700 or go to www.queensmuseum.org/events/oye-corona-day-of-the-dead-2016.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, the Queens Zoo will be hosting “Boo at the Zoo,” a collection of activities that includes face painting, trick or treating and crafts. There will also be two special programs: “Meet a Live Animal,” which will give visitors the opportunity to meet a live animal and learn about its amazing adaptations from zoo educators (noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.) and “Pumpkins for the Pumas and Bears,” in which the zoo’s pumas and Andean bears will tear into their treat-filled Halloween pumpkins. Children under 12, in costume and accompanied by an adult, will be admitted free all weekend and Monday. For more details, call (718) 271-1500 or go to queenszoo.com

Another traditional Halloween creature—the bat—is the focus of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s First Annual Batty Over Halloween Celebration, Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. This free event, on the Astoria Park Lawn is aimed at kids up to 10 years old, and will include music, a theatrical performance, face painting, balloon twisting, Halloween characters, cotton candy and mini pumpkins. For more information, call (718) 728-7820.

From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, the Austin’s Kid’s Spookfest will be haunting 82-70 Austin Street in Kew Gardens. This event will feature a Kids Haunted Buffet, Best Costume Contest and Halloween gift bags. For more details, call (718) 849-3939

Just in case you thought there was nothing left for Halloween itself, the Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center at 93-29 Queens Blvd. is coming to the rescue. From 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday, the center is throwing a Holloween party with games, crafts, a costume contest, music, giveaways and more. And for those who think that it’s just not Halloween without a witch or two, there will be a screening of the movie “Hocus Pocus” at dusk, following the party. Call (718) 393-7370 for more details.

And let’s not forget another old standby—the Halloween parade. At 5 p.m. Monday, the Jackson Heights Halloween Parade will bring a crowd of ghosts, ghouls and other assorted characters to 37th Avenue. Starting at 89th Street, marchers will head down to the parade’s finish line at 76th Street, where goodie bags will be distributed.

If those ghosts and ghouls don’t do it for you, maybe you’d rather spend Halloween dressed as your favorite “Grease” character. You can puff up that beehive, put on your pink jacket (or your motorcycle jacket) and head to Flushing Town Hall, for a singalong to the movie “Grease.” The evening begins with a vocal warm-up and a run through of the hand-jive, after which participants are invited to join Danny, Sandy and the gang in singing (and dancing) along to the lyrics on the screen. Open to all ages; drop in late or leave early. Shows are at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $13, $10 for members, $8 for children and $6 for member children. There will also be goodie bags filled with props to help you get into character for $2.

So whatever you want to do—or whoever you’re going to be—for Halloween, there’s sure to be something in Queens this weekend for you. Make sure you pay your respects to the Great Pumpkin if you see him.

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