Featured Story

Coffin Races set for Griffing Avenue; Farmers Market bites the dust

The annual Halloween Parade and the new “coffin races” will be among the highlights of the Riverhead Business Improvement District’s Halloween Festival this year.

The BID management association has now finalized the specifics of its plans for it’s second annual Halloween Festival.

Members of the BIDMA also have decided to no longer do the winter farmer’s market in downtown Riverhead, which had been an annual event since 2014.

This will be the BIDMA’s second Halloween parade. In the two years prior to that, St. George Productions of Medford did the downtown parade and Halloween festivities in Riverhead under contract with the BIDMA and called it the Edgar Allan Poe festival.  That group left last year in a dispute over insurance requirements.

The coffin races, which will be in its first year, will take place on Griffing Avenue between Court Street and Second Street, according to BIDMA executive director Diane Tucci.

It involves teams of four “pallbearers” pushing a “coffin” on wheels with one person in the coffin. The races, which will start at 2:30 on Sunday, Oct. 29, will be done in “heats,” wherein two teams will go head to head, with the winners moving to the next heat, until the winner is determined in the final race. A limit of 30 teams will be allowed to participate.

There will be prizes for the winners in the age 5-12 group, and the overall group, as well as prizes for best themed costume, most creative, and other categories, according to Ms. Tucci.

She said the event is being modeled after the Emma Crawford Coffin Race and Parade in Manitou Springs, CO. The rules for the coffins are posted on halloweenfestriverhead.com, Ms. Tucci said.

The parade will start on Saturday, Oct 28 at 6:30 p.m., with a slightly different route. It will start on Griffing Avenue, proceed east on Main Street, and then turn south on McDermott Avenue, where it will culminate behind the former Swezey’s store, Ms. Tucci said. This will enable awards and prizes to be given there, and allow Main Street to reopen sooner.

There will be a $500 prize for best parade participant and smaller prizes for second and third place, she said.

The Saturday events also will include trick or treating on Main Street from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and pumpkin carving on the riverfront.

The Suffolk Theater and the Long Island Aquarium also will be holding events during the three-day weekend, starting off with a “Drop Dead Ball” at the Suffolk Theater and a Halloween Masquerade Ball at the Long Island Aquarium on Friday, Oct. 27; and culminating with the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Suffolk Theater.

When it first opened in February, 2014, the BIDMA’s winter farmer’s market was a big hit, packing the former Swezey’s furniture store site with buyers and vendors from throughout Long Island.

But last year, it lost more than $5,000, according to BIDMA president Steve Shaugher.

Ms. Tucci said there weren’t even any BID businesses participating in the farmer’s market, even though BID members could participate for free.

As a result, the BIDMA on Wednesday voted not to hold the indoor market this winter.

“The first year, it got a great crowd, but it was all down hill after that,” said Dee Muma, who owns Dark Horse Restaurant in downtown and is a BIDMA member.

Nancy Kouris, who owns Blue Duck Bakery and is a BIDMA member, said she participated the first three years, but had to pull out this year because it wasn’t bringing customers to her store.

“We have to spend our money wisely,” she said.

The building it was located in for three of its four years, the former Swezey’s furniture building, doesn’t have heat, and its owner was proposing to raise the monthly rent from $1,250 to $1,500 officials said.

[email protected]

Photo: Courtesy of Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce.