Coffin races a treat Riverhead Halloween Fest

Zombies, ghouls, ghosts and more lined Riverhead’s Griffing Avenue on Saturday to delight in the fifth annual coffin races, part of the town’s Halloween Festival.

The festival, hosted by Riverhead’s Business Improvement District, was full of Halloween-themed fun for all. The event was emceed by local entertainer Mark MK McLaughlin, his third consecutive year at the mic.

Festivities started with the popular coffin races at 2 p.m. Teams of five categorized by age as “Ghoulies” (5 to 12 years old) and “Zombies” (12 and up) raced custom-made “coffins” for cash prizes. This year, they had four participants, two in each category. In the Ghoulies category, the Zombies of Mardi Gras raced the Haunted Handymen. In the Zombies category, the Miyagi Do raced the Goofy Goobers.

According to Kristy Verity, executive director of the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association, the registration fee was waived this year and the cash prizes were increased.

“It was a $500 cash prize to each team and then we gave a big trophy to each winning team, and then every participant in the coffin race got a medal as well,” Ms. Verity said.

The first-place winners in the Ghoulies category were the Zombies of Mardi Gras, a team made up of Riley Avenue Elementary School students.

The first-place team in Zombies category was the Miyagi Do.

Halloween Fest continued with trick-or-treating down main street from 3 to 5 p.m. and closed with a parade at 6 p.m.

Ms. Verity said the event was “phenomenal.”

“We haven’t had a Halloween event at 80 degrees in a very long time,” she said. “Trick-or-treating was great, the parade was wonderful. I think year after year we see a bigger turnout for that and we’ve had phenomenal feedback for it.”

She added that it’s a great day to savor the diversity in Riverhead Town. 

“We have Town Council members, the police department, community members, everyone just on the street, having fun, dancing to the DJ, rooting for the parade, and it’s a really nice event in downtown Riverhead,” she said.

The popular event that was established in 2017 was only canceled twice, once in 2018 due to weather and 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Riverhead BID also held online voting this year for the community’s favorite parade act and favorite decorated lamppost. The winner was announced at the end of the day on Halloween on the Downtown Riverhead Facebook page and on Instagram @DowntownRiverhead.