Coffin races return to Riverhead for annual Halloween Festival

The Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association is bringing back the popular coffin races for the second straight year at its annual Halloween Festival Oct. 27.

The Halloween Parade will also take place that night, and there will be trick-or-treating in the afternoon. 

Last year, the BIDMA planned to have the inaugural coffin races on a Sunday on a portion of Griffing Avenue, while the parade would take place on the prior Saturday night.

But heavy rain in the forecast forced the coffin races to be moved up a day and moved to Heidi Behr Way on the Peconic River parking lot.

Last year’s Plan B worked well and is now the primary plan for this year Halloween Festival.

The coffin races will start at 1 p.m. and should end around 2:30, according to Diane Tucci, the executive director of the BIDMA.

From 3 to 5 p.m., there will be trick-or-treating in downtown Riverhead, and then at 7 p.m., the annual Halloween parade starts.

The coffin races have teams of four costume-wearing “pallbearers” push a makeshift coffin, while the fifth member of the team pretends to be the deceased.

“We’re going to try and wind the parade down where the coffin races take place so we won’t be taking up anyone’s parking,” Ms. Tucci said.

Last year, some restaurant owners, including two who are BIDMA members, complained that the Halloween events took up all their parking spaces.

The BIDMA is hoping to have about 20 volunteers guide people to the right parking spaces, as was done with the recent Cardboard Boat races, Ms. Tucci said.

Some restaurant owners reported good results.

“It was my busiest time of the year,” said James Liszanckie, who co-owns Sonny’s Diner, and is now a BIDMA member.

In addition to the parade and coffin race, the BIDMA is also holding other Halloween events Oct. 27, such as pumpkin carving, a Jack O’Lantern Walk and restaurant specials.

Other private businesses in downtown Riverhead are also expected to have Halloween events, Ms. Tucci said.

[email protected]