A few hundred families joined the NYC Parks and Recreation Department for an afternoon of free Halloween fun on the lawn by the front gate booth in Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens, on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.
The event started at 4 p.m. and went on until 7 p.m. Kids of all ages had a blast picking out pumpkins for carving, showing off their athletic skills at the obstacle course, playing a round of “Gaga” or channeling their inner Frida Kahlo at the art and crafts tables.
A hay ride took those who wanted to engage in a more leisurely and relaxed activity on a 15-minute journey through the grounds of Fort Totten.
Matt Symons, Northeast Queens Parks administrator, shared that the park handed out 1,000 pumpkins; Briermere Farms donated 10 boxes of apples; and Green Meadows Farm donated the hay ride.
He explained that “Gaga” was a safer version of dodgeball.
“The ball can’t go above your knee. It’s like dodgeball but without like hitting people in the head. So a safer version of that,” Symons said. “And if you hit somebody, then they’re out, and the winner is the last person standing.”
Walter came with his son Dominique who was dressed as Gonk Droid from “Star Wars.” It took them about three weekends to build Dominique’s costume.
“We like to feature our costumes. We’ve been here as Optimus Prime, as PacMan as Godzilla,” Walter said. “It’s a lot of bonding that we do.”
Friends Karen Lau and Suzanne Mora and their kids attended for the first time and learned about the event on Facebook. They picked some pumpkins and apples and crafted paper flowers.
“It’s a beautiful day and a fun outdoor activity for the kids,” they both agreed.
Emily Sheahan and her three daughters, Caroline, Josephine and Katherine, said it was their first time back after COVID. However, Sheahan noted that the event used to be a lot bigger.
“It used to be on the big field in the back,” Sheahan said. “So, it’s definitely smaller.”
Monique Nieves — dressed as a “cereal killer” because “Dahmer is a big thing right now” — and Elizabeth Rodriguez-Perez attended the event with their kids and loved it.
“It’s a nice family event. It’s a beautiful day,” Rodriguez-Perez said.
Siblings 4-year-old Savannah and 7-year-old Ethan were dressed as astronauts. Their mom Cindy, who is married to an NYPD officer, shared that she picked the costumes for the kids.
“Savannah was actually supposed to be a mermaid,” Cindy said. “But then she saw her brother as an astronaut, so she wanted to be an astronaut. So I was scrambling to find a pink one.”
Manny and Iona came all the way from North Brooklyn with their daughters Gizzele and Legend.
Iona said that she always checks the events the NYC Parks Department offers, especially in the summer.
“I just found out about it on my phone,” Iona said. “I wish we would have gotten here earlier. After COVID, I think everyone is just glad to be outside again.”