Coffin races may not return to Riverhead’s annual Halloween Festival

The Riverhead Business Improvement District’s Halloween Fest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26, and the event will include some of the staples of past events, including the annual Halloween Parade, trick-or-treating on Main Street and decorating the street lamps. 

But one event that’s still up in the air is the coffin race. 

The coffin race made its debut in 2017, although it was rained out on the scheduled Saturday and took place the following Sunday.

In 2018, the event was again rained out on a Saturday, with no make-up day. 

And this year?

“We’re trying to meet with a committee of people that could potentially run it for us,” said Steve Shauger, president of the BID’s management association. 

“In a lot of the events we’ve had, like the Holiday Bonfire, for example, we’ve had a community group that’s handled a lot of the event for us. Art in the Park also has a committee, so it’s not exactly the BID board that handles that,” he said.

Last year’s Halloween Parade was originally scheduled for Saturday, when a nor’easter occurred, but was rescheduled to the following Sunday night. There was no rain date for the coffin race. 

Mr. Shauger said former BIDMA executive director, who brought the coffin races to Riverhead, is trying to put together a group of volunteers to revive them.

“The coffin race is going to die until some people really step up,” Ms. Tucci said in an interview. “I’ve met people in the community that definitely want to see this event keep going. But they need some strong volunteers, and it can’t be me. I’m a little busy.”

In addition to running her own business in Riverhead, Ms. Tucci also is running for a Riverhead Town council seat in November. 

“I’m happy to help, but you need four or five people who are really dedicated to making it happen,” she said.

She added that she “has some people who are interested but it’s a matter of getting them all together … I’m happy to act as a point person for anybody that would like to make sure that this event continues. It cannot continue unless a group steps up.”

Ms. Tucci urged anyone interested to call her office at 631-209-4244 or email her at [email protected]. The BIDMA’s Halloween Festival originated in 2014 as the Edgar Allan Poe Festival, which BIDMA hired an outside company to run. In 2016, the BIDMA took over the running of the event, calling it simply the Halloween Fest and retaining elements of the earlier festival, including the parade and the trick-or-treating. 

[email protected]