10/31/13 7:58pm
10/31/2013 7:58 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kids lined up behind a Jamesport firetruck today

BamBam and an Evil Princess were just some of the costumes kids were wearing at the Jamesport Fire Department’s station today as they enjoyed the Halloween festivities.

About two dozen children, ranging from 10 months to about 10 years old, lined up behind a fire truck with the sirens blaring as they walked across Main Road ro the George G. Young Community Center. Treated with orange gatorade, chips, cheetos and hot dogs, the kids also got to see a 30-minute magic show.

The fire department has held the annual tradition since 1995, according to former Fire Chief Howie Waldman.

10/31/13 4:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Witches were the theme Thursday at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue on Halloween.

Riverhead Town Senior Center site manager Debbie Schwarz presided over the Halloween costume contest at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue Friday morning. Of the 14 women and one brave man, there were seven variations on the witch theme.

In the end Julie Nava, 63, of Riverhead beat the odds and won hands down with her belly dancer costume.

10/31/13 12:00pm
Jeff and Melissa Micari won the best costume contest at Suffolk Theater this weekend.

Jeff and Melissa Micari won the best costume contest at Suffolk Theater this weekend.

If you’re really proud of your Halloween costume this year or you think your kid will be the cutest in the neighborhood, then share your photos for all to see on in our gallery.

Several of our staff’s favorite photos will appear on the cover of the community section in the Nov. 7 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

There are three different ways you can submit photos:

• Click the blue “upload tab” at the top of the gallery below.

• Or hashtag your photos #northforker when you post them on Twitter and Instagram.

• Or email your photos to jennifer@timesreview.com or gparpan@timesreview.com.

10/31/13 8:00am

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | This ‘corpse’ is part of a spooky scene in Wading River.

Ghosts, graves and ghastly goblins — these are just a few of the props local homeowners are using to decorate their houses and lawns for Halloween. From menacing masks and cobwebs to spooky scarecrows and the Grim Reaper, here are photos of some of the scariest-looking spots around.

For a chance to have a Halloween photo in the Nov. 7 edition of The Riverhead-News Reivew, click here to read more.

10/26/13 3:05pm
10/26/2013 3:05 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Sarah McCombe riding Malvin at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Ranch in Riverhead.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Sarah McCombe riding Malvin at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Ranch.

Families and their horses are donning Halloween costumes to participate in a rodeo at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Ranch in Riverhead today, Saturday.

The event kicked off at 11 a.m. and runs to 5:30 p.m.

The kids’ cowboy-themed Halloween event and horsemanship show was hosted by a true cowboy, Missouri-raised cattleman and bareback bronco rodeo competitor, Shane Ely, who operates the Riverhead ranch.

The event features horsemanship classes for children and adults, barrel and dash racing, cattle-roping competitions, rider-and-horse costume classes, egg-and-spoon riding races, pony rides, a swap meet, and a Chinese auction of baskets donated by local businesses.

There is also a free barbeque.

All of the proceeds go to Contractors For Kids, a charity assisting families with seriously ill and dying children.

Since its start in 2005, the nonprofit has helped about 400 families with help fund mortgage payments, bills, funeral expenses, and even cars for single mothers with children receiving frequent treatments.

To support Contractors For Kids and learn about the organization’s activities and upcoming events, please visit www.contractorsforkids.org or call 1-888-208-KIDS.

jennifer@timesereview.com

10/06/13 10:00am
10/06/2013 10:00 AM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | A prop in the haunted village portion of Darkside Productions’ haunted house in Wading River.

Walking through a simulated haunted house, Mike Meola says, should trigger the same conflicting emotions one feels when riding a roller coaster.

“Your body is telling you, ‘Oh my god, I shouldn’t be upside down,’ but your brain is like, ‘Yeah, this is awesome!’ ” he says.

It’s with these feelings in mind that Mr. Meola, who has operated the Darkside Productions Haunted House in Wading River for the past 16 years, continuously looks for ways to scare and excite people when he transforms an old potato barn and surrounding field on Route 25A into a haven of horrors each fall.

“You’re going to see some really cool stuff,” he says. “You’re going to get that startle and you’re going to have that adrenaline rush.”

Making all that happen, however, is no easy task.

Northforker.com: Haunted houses and trails on the North Fork

Preparations for the Halloween season at Darkside Productions, Mr. Meola says, typically begin at the end of July and include building sets and creating props, like the menacing scarecrows hanging around in a field at the site’s haunted village. Ninety percent of the props are homemade, he says. The remaining 10 percent are purchased from Halloween specialty stores.

In addition, Mr. Meola hires about 50 actors each year to terrify visitors at Darkside Productions’ 30 “scare spots.” He works closely with each actor on improvisation and timing, he says. For safety reasons, the actors are prohibited from touching visitors.

Then there are the sets. Mr. Meola, a carpenter by trade, builds new wooden structures each year for his 3,000-square-foot haunted house and 10,000-square-foot haunted village — only to have to tear them down at the end of each Halloween season, which runs from Oct. 4 to Nov. 3. Most props are bundled into a storage unit during the off-season.

“Basically we tear down 90 percent of [the sets] each season because you can’t really store them out here,” Mr. Meola says. “Then we have to put everything back, change it, tweak it. It’s a tremendous amount of work and a lot of people don’t realize it. For 16 years, this has been my life.”

But it’s one he wouldn’t change. Mr. Meola has always had a love of the macabre, beginning when he was just 6 years old and saw “The Exorcist” for the first time.

“That movie scared the crap out of me, but I liked the feeling,” he says. “It was the first movie to actually make you feel like there was something under your bed, something in your closet, things that go bump in the night.”

Oscar Gonzalez, owner of the new Voodoo Field of Horrors haunted house in Mattituck, understands that feeling well, having first seen “The Exorcist” at age 10 in his native Costa Rica. Mr. Gonazalez’ love for horror quickly grew from there, later compounded by the existence of a year-round haunted house operated in Costa Rica by his former boss.

“That’s where my passion came from,” he says.

Mr. Gonzalez, a personal trainer who lives in Hampton Bays, got his start creating his own haunted houses two years ago when he and his partner, John Sieni, a co-owner of La Maison Blanche hotel on Shelter Island, transformed the inn and restaurant into the “Haunted Mansion” for an event that raised money for breast cancer research.

This year, Mr. Gonzalez said, he opted to move the event to the mainland so more people can attend. He has created a 1,500-square-foot wooden structure on the site of Patty’s Berries and Bunches on Sound Avenue that he says cost $6,000 in materials alone. The haunted house sits on the property across the street from Harbes Family Farm. Voodoo Field of Horrors opens Oct. 11 and runs through Oct. 27.

On a sunny afternoon last week, a sense of darkness loomed over Voodoo Field of Horrors. During a walk-through of the haunted house, Mr. Gonzalez pointed out the rooms’ various props, most of which he created, including a seven-foot-tall evil clown and a man being transformed into a frightening insect.

“I try to look for ideas on the Internet,” Mr. Gonzalez says of the inspiration behind his props. “As soon as I build a prop, I can design a scene.”

In a section of the haunted house Mr. Gonzalez refers to as “the baby’s room,” a demonic doll equipped with two bloody knives for hands waits in a shadowy corner to scare visitors. The rest of the room contains props like an old wooden rocking horse and a dilapidated antique carriage Mr. Gonzalez picked up at a thrift store. Not surprisingly, the effect is thoroughly unsettling.

“We try to target the fears of people,” Mr. Gonzalez says. “When I designed this haunted house, I designed it to target those fears — claustrophobia, darkness. I want to make you feel like you want to get out of here.”

In Wading River, Mr. Meola shares a similar vision.

“We try to put something for everybody in here because there are things that really terrify certain people,” he says. “Fear of bugs, fear of being alone, fear of dolls, fear of clowns.”

Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Meola agree that their ultimate task is to create a spooky but completely safe experience.

“As much as we want to be scary, we’re here to entertain you,” Mr. Meola says.

ryoung@timesreview.com

10/29/11 2:20pm
10/29/2011 2:20 PM

Riverhead Town’s recreation department is hosted a “Halloween Spooktacular” at Stotzky Park Friday night. All ages were welcome and it was estimated by the overflowing parking lot that around 600 were in attendance. There were free treats loaded in the trunks of cars that they called ‘Trunk or Treat’, a pumpkin patch for $3 a pumpkin, pony rides, ghosts, snacks by Windy Acres Farm, witches, a ‘Spooky Walk with a mummy, goblins and monsters, spooky stories, and DJ Regina Holmes spun the discs on the town’s showmobile.

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10/27/10 4:07pm
10/27/2010 4:07 PM

Many years ago Halloween meant something entirely different from the Halloween we know today. It was a time when ignorance and suspicion ruled. It was a period of ghosts and goblins, darkness and shadows —  a far cry from the joys of young people who dress up for Halloween today.

Having three children and four grandchildren who went through this period of make-believe, we remember well when they donned their garb of pirates, space walkers, ballerinas, etc. along with masks and painted faces. Then they’d go knocking at your door calling, “Trick or treat!”

Today our Halloween youngsters, including our four great-grandchildren, will dress up in their various costumes of firemen, witches, musketeers and even lobsters and parade with their friends down Main Street and show off their special Halloween attire.

Then there’s the prelude to this special time of the year when the family heads out to get those special pumpkins. Some will paint faces on them, others will cut out eyes, nose and mouth to put a candle inside. Some will just put their pumpkin on the front porch as their part of the Halloween celebration.

This reminds me of a Halloween many years ago, when my sister and I each had our own pumpkin with its candle inside, that almost resulted in a family disaster. It came about when I called my sister over to see how much better you could see my smiling pumpkin in the darkness underneath my dad’s big overstuffed chair. Little did I realize my pumpkin’s candle not only showed up better in the darkness under the chair but also, to my surprise, its flame grew larger and larger as the fire from my candle set the chair’s stuffing on fire.

As luck would have it, the day was saved when my mother, who was doing the dishes, came to the rescue by flipping the chair over and throwing the dishpan of water — full of knives, forks and spoons — on my pumpkin and the chair. With such goings-on, I often look back and wonder how we all made it to today.

Halloween comes each autumn when the leaves start to fall. Living with trees surrounding us, we get our fill of leaves. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t want it any other way. There was a time we could all burn our leaves, but no more, and I miss that smell of burning leaves in the fall.

Think of the fun our great-grands will get when raking up a pile of leaves and then running and jumping into them, and the squeals we’ll hear as they get covered in leaves, then jump out and start all over again.

While here at our home, they love to pick the hickory nuts and visit the cows and chickens and, yes, see the newest little chick that just hatched out. Children love to visit the local farms and search for their favorite pumpkin or feed the sheep, goats and geese. They can ride through the apple orchards and pick their own apples, visit the corn mazes — all part of the country fall scene we all enjoy here on the North Fork.

A Stirring of the Leaves
The sun had slipped away unnoticed
A stillness crept through the woods;
Each blackened tree could feel its presence,
It seemed as if the world stood still — waiting.
All the birds had left their busy day,
Each had gone to its secret place for the night.
The tiger of the woods slipped in on deadly silent wings,
his yellow eyes ever searching.
Three deer mice curled up in their warm little nest,
One lifted its head to sniff the air and then return to sleep.
The call of winter played out its bag of tricks,
Nothing was spared.
Like a sleeping giant the wind awoke
And the last leaf of the white oak fell.
Winter had arrived.

—Paul Stoutenburgh