BY DEAN MOSES
For many, the scariest thing about Halloween this year was the prospect of it being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, much to the delight of Queens children all over the borough, the Queens Country Farm Museum held a trick-or-treating event on Oct. 31.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the iconic farmland played host to a sold-out ticketed affair which allowed children to explore the 47-acre grounds and safely trick-or-treat while maintaining social distancing protocols.
Children of all ages barreled through fallen auburn leaves, touting buckets shaped like pumpkins brimming with chocolate. Parents and guardians scrambled after kids that had — just for one day — been transformed into monsters, superheroes, and even first responders. Like zombies craving brains, these mini ghouls and ghosts had one objective in mind: candy. After months of uncertainty, Halloween was underway.
Tabletops decorated with bite-sized confectionery were peppered around the estate, creating pitstops for children to procure sweets beside barns, chicken coops, cow pastures, flowerbeds and a pumpkin patch. Some of these makeshift stands held other treats, too, such as bubble bottles and worms families could take home and place in their gardens to improve the soil and plant life. Whereas some were apprehensive to take a coffee cup filled with earthworms, a mother and daughter combo dressed as two bright, pink sharks jumped at the chance to see everything the farm had to offer.
“We moved to Queens last year, and I’ve been here as a teacher and as a child, and I wanted to bring my daughter this time for the first time this year,” said Niaren DeSilva, who originally planned to take her 1 ½-year-old pumpkin picking at the Queens County Farm Museum, but when the tickets sold out, she was happy to learn about this Halloween event.
“I was definitely worried that we wouldn’t be able to trick-or-treat and do all of the fun seasonal things, but I was happy to find this and be able to socially distance and have fun,” said DeSilva. The highlight for DeSilva was seeing the animals on the farm and observing the children’s intricate costumes, and, of course, being able to trick-or-treat during these uncertain times.
In addition to collecting all things sugary, visitors could enjoy exploring a massive and rather spooky corn maze, embarking on rumbling hayrides pulled by large tractors, feasting on freshly roasted corn shish kabobs, and taking selfies in a flower garden housing animal-shaped plants and walls overgrown with vivid flowers. This laundry list of activities made Queens Country Farm Museum the place to spend Halloween, bringing such famous faces as Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s novel and terrifying Camp Crystal Lake resident Jason Voorhees.
The Vanbrunt family were dressed to impress as horror movie all-stars. Their 14-year-old son, Andy Rodriguez, donned a classic “Friday the 13th” hockey mask. While only being permitted to watch a few of these slasher flicks, the costume was inspired by the online multiplayer video game of the same name. “We were all dressing up as scary characters and Jason is the coolest scary character to me. I like the game and I watched the 2008 film,” Rodriguez said.
Karina Vanbrunt has taken her children to the Queens County Farm Museum for many years, and usually in October they enjoy the fall festivity of pumpkin picking.
“This is the first time we’ve done the Halloween on the farm though, we always come pumpkin picking so when we saw they were having a Halloween thing we decided to give it a try,” Karina Vanbrunt said.
She added that she was uncertain how the holiday was going to turn out for her children.
“We were hesitant about physically trick-or-treating, usually around Glendale, where I live, it gets really crowded every year. So, we wanted to find a place that was outdoors and had an open space where we could decide to leave if it got too crowded. That’s the reason why we decided to come to the farm.”
Their youngest son, 7-year-old Caden Rodriguez dressed as Pennywise the Dancing Clown the latest adaptation of the horror classic “IT,” while his 3-year-old sister, Maya, wore a yellow raincoat with white face paint and blood to represent the departed Georgie who meets his demise at the hands of Pennywise.
“I like Pennywise because it is horror and I like horror movies,” Caden Rodriguez said.
Queens County Farm Museum didn’t just transform their site into a spooktacular event; they made it a haven for families to feel some sort of normalcy during what has already been a scary year.