This Halloween season has me feeling a little like Sally Brown after spending a night in the pumpkin patch: “I was robbed!”
Sally, of course, missed the Halloween fun in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown because she decided to hang out in a field with her crush instead of going to a party (important life lesson for girls everywhere). In 2020, the rest of us are losing out on some favorite traditions due to necessary pandemic precautions.
In the interest of safety, costume parades in Riverhead and Greenport have been cancelled and the annual Riverhead coffin races are six feet under. Meanwhile, the CDC has deemed trick or treating a high risk activity.
But wait! Like the Great Pumpkin rising out of the pumpkin patch, North Fork towns and businesses are resurrecting the holiday with creative socially distant activities for both kids and grown-up revelers. For starters, you can visit one one of the area’s very sincere pumpkin patches to pick out a jack o’ lantern, sip some cider and wander a haunted corn maze.
Then make plans to celebrate safely at one or more of the special events below. As Sally Brown once said, trick or treats come only once a year. You don’t want to miss out.
A Halloween village in Greenport
From 12-3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, bring the kids to Greenport for safe, no-contact trick or treating (no tricks please) at village businesses as well as a scavenger hunt. In lieu of a parade, Greenport will be creating a “Halloween Village”: Businesses and curbside dining areas will be decorated in spooky themes, there will be Instagram-friendly photo-ops set up throughout the village and students from the Greenport High School drama club will be prowling the streets in costume.
Plan on grabbing lunch, too, as restaurants will be offering Halloween-themed specials. At Green Hill Kitchen & Que, you can sample guest chef Gotham Burger Social Club’s signature Smash Burgers and take part in a costume contest beginning at noon.
A “trunk or treat” drive through in Stotzy Park
Collect treats from the safety of your car at this event on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 5-6:30 p.m. Hosted by the Town of Riverhead Recreation Department, the Trunk or Treat event will happen in Stotzy Park, 55 Columbus Avenue in Riverhead. You can also register to decorate your car and hand out treats — the best decorated vehicle will win a prize.
A family party at the Long Island Aquarium
Head to the Long Island Aquarium between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 31 for the annual Bats, Barnacles & Broomsticks Halloween party. Vendors will be passing out candy via scoops or tongs, and families can also enjoy raffle prizes, crafts and displays with special Halloween treats for the animals. Masks are a must for both children and adults (and no, Halloween masks do not count).
Kids in costume get 50% off admission, but reservations are required, so grab a timed slot here. Make sure to also reserve a seat at the 12:30pm or 2:30pm sea lion shows, after which the famed “penguin parade” will appear. Because have you really lived if you haven’t seen a penguin wearing a tuxedo?
A dog costume parade at Greenport Harbor Brewery
Dress your weiner dog as a hot dog or your taco terrier as an actual taco for the first annual Howl-o-ween at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company in Peconic. The events kicks off on October 31 at 2:00 p.m. and features a dog costume parade followed by prizes for cutest, scariest, best combined dog/owner, most original and best homemade costumes. There will also be raffles, games and shelter puppies to cuddle from the North Fork Animal League. Register at www.greenportbrew.com; the cost is $10 per pooch with a portion of benefits going to the animal league. (Masks and social distancing will be required for humans.)
A spooky walk through downtown Riverhead
Take a stroll through downtown Riverhead to check out the annual Halloween Lamp Post Display, where area businesses show off their morbid imaginations by transforming nearly 50 lamp posts along East and West Main Streets into ghosts, ghouls and other Halloween-themed creations. Businesses will be also decorated and offering Halloween-themed specials.