Kids’ Almanac (October 24-31)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Q) What do birds sing on Halloween?
A) “Trick or Tweet!”


Safe treats for kids with food allergies

Are you ready for Halloween yet? My kids have been talking about their costumes for months, and when it’s hard to make a final selection, they end up being different characters for each of the events that we attend: a friend’s Halloween party, the SUNY Trick or Treat event and Halloween itself.

For some of my friends, the costumes are only one challenging aspect of the holiday: Their efforts ramp up during sweets season to protect their children with life-threatening food allergies while helping them enjoy the spirited fun and festivities. Local Mom Jenn Markwerth says, “I have realized that people just do not know how serious it is until the first time you see your child swell up and stop breathing, needing an EpiPen [epinephrine Auto-Injector] injection to save her life, then an emergency room visit with much more medical care once she’s at ER.”


I began to wonder how families could support each other, especially during times with such a strong focus on candy. Comedian Rita Rudner, who performed at Belleayre this summer, has a hilarious take on Halloween: “Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents said, ‘Never take candy from strangers.’ And then they dressed me up and said, ‘Go beg for it.’ I didn’t know what to do. I’d knock on people’s doors and go, ‘Trick or treat…no thank you.’”

That “No thank you” comes from a different place for people with food allergies. Another area Mom, wellness educator Kathy Puffer, says, “Soy, milk, wheat, food dye and nuts are off the menu for both of my children, which cancels out most processed foods. A helpful resource for us is a Facebook group called ‘Healthy Kids Revolution,’ or, which offers simple suggestions for nutrition-packed snacks for children. The kids’ food allergies have catapulted me to learn how to cook and make all of my family’s food from scratch…It is our hope that by providing a whole-food-based diet to our children, they will continue to improve their core immunity and one day we won’t have to be as diligent against possibly life-threatening exposures to certain foods.”

Food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances take different forms. Another local Mom shared this perspective: “I would love for you to provide information to parents on how challenging Halloween can be for gluten-free kids. Most people assume all candy is gluten-free, but it is not. For instance, licorice is made with wheat flour…but gummy candy is not. And it’s easy to forget that a lot of candy involves wafers of some kind.”

I invite you to join me in helping to make this holiday safer for all of our children. Instead of distributing candy this year, whether from your home or at a group event that you might host, consider handing out small toys, coins, craft gemstones, markers, crayons, novelty erasers, pens, pencils, tiny notepads, tattoos or stickers instead of edible items. I feel empowered by the fact that small choices like these enable children with food allergies to feel safe and included. Read on for more Halloween fun!


Halloween happenings

If only you could be in multiple places at once! I am so excited about this special collection of Halloween events happening this week. Let’s take a look…


Trick-or-treating on campus

College trick-or-treating is a great way to expose children to college campuses that they might not see otherwise. Vassar College’s Halloween activities take place on Saturday, October 26, beginning with a costume-optional 5K Fun Run at 11 a.m. The costume parade and contest begin at 12 noon at the Arthur S. May Elementary School, and the trick-or-treating and games begin at 1 p.m. at the Residential Quad. All of these activities are free and open to the public. Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 437-5370 or visit

SUNY-New Paltz’s free trick-or-treat event for children age 12 and under is a foolproof way to celebrate, since all of the activities are indoors, inside each dormitory; so no matter what the weather, it’s a good time. Games and activities take place in each dorm’s lobby, and a resident guide takes your group around the halls to knock on doors for treats. The trick-or-treating takes place on Sunday, October 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 257-7869 or visit


More community trick-or-treat events:

On Saturday, October 26, get all dressed up for the Kids & Adults Trick-or-Treat in Marlboro event, beginning at 1 p.m. with Not So Spooky storytelling and snacks at the Marlboro Free Library. Other activities include a mini-Touch-a-Truck; a Parents’ Night Out at Madeline’s Dance Center; and much more. Visit for times and locations, as well as a map.

The Annual Fall Festival and Children’s Safety Day takes place on Saturday, October 26 at the Hudson Valley Mall (inside and out) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with trick-or-treating scheduled from 4 to 5 p.m. Stop in the food court to see a preview of Ulster Ballet’s upcoming A Christmas Carol at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Take a look at the Ulster Publishing coloring contest submissions while you’re there, and see who the winners are! The Hudson Valley Mall is located at 1300 Ulster Avenue in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 336-8000 or visit

A Halloween walkabout for the very little ones! The new Pumpkin Walk & Halloween Parade takes place at the Gardiner Library on Tuesday, October 29 from 6 to 7 p.m. “A Halloween parade specially arranged for the very young who can’t participate in the big New Paltz parade.” Come in costume and bring your carved pumpkin with a battery light. Start at the Gardiner Library and walk through Gardiner, returning to the library parking area for treats! Bring a flashlight. The Gardiner Library is located at 133 Farmers’ Turnpike in Gardiner. For more information, call (845) 255-1255 or visit


Looking for animal fun?

The Forsyth Nature Center and the Junior League of Kingston present Boo in the Zoo this Friday, October 25. Boo in the Zoo start time is 5:30 p.m.; storytelling starts at 5:45 p.m.; the costume parade happens at 6:15 p.m., then s’mores. The event finishes at 7 p.m. Boo in the Zoo is free and open to the public, and registration is encouraged. The Forsyth Nature Center is located at 156 Lucas Avenue in Kingston. For more information or to register, call (845) 481-353 or write to, or visit

Bear Mountain’s Boo at the Zoo takes place on Saturday, October 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. See the bears check out their tasty Halloween treats! Parking costs $8, but the zoo admission is by donation. The Bear Mountain Zoo is located at Bear Mountain State Park, on Seven Lakes Drive, off Route 9W. For more information, call (845) 786-2701, extension 293, or visit


How about haunted stories?

Enjoy ghost stories with live music at the Morton Library on Sunday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. Admission costs $10. The Morton Library is located at 85 Kelly Street in Rhinecliff. For more information, call (845) 876-2903 or visit

Mount Gulian brought back its Scary Stories in the Barn event! Scary Stories takes place on Friday, October 25. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the performance begins at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments and face paint are available. This event is recommended for children ages 5 and older, and attendees should dress warmly, since the barn is not heated. Admission costs $8 for adults, $6 for children. Mount Gulian is located at 145 Sterling Street in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 831-8172 or visit


Love crafting?

On Saturday, October 26, Art Riot offers some spooky Halloween storytelling plus two crafts for children ages 7 and up, including a cotton-swab skeleton and an instrument that sounds like bones. Pricing is $10 per child, $7 for members. Art Riot is located at 36 John Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 331-2421 or visit


Does your goblin like to cook?

The Terrapin Restaurant invites children ages 8 to 12 to join the free Kids’ Taste and Talk. Participants will help make pumpkin mac & cheese and learn how to roast the leftover seeds. The Terrapin is located at 6426 Montgomery Street in Rhinebeck. For more information, call (845) 876-3330 or visit



Halloween Helpers can make a difference…

Give your family a chance to help others by attending the Halloween Dance Party Fundraiser in New Paltz on Saturday, October 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is for families with children ages 13 and under. Admission costs $15 for adults, $5 for kids; children age 4 and under get in free. The dance takes place at the Elks Lodge, located at 290 Route 32 in New Paltz. Proceeds to the Perseverance organization will go to help children in need. For more information, call (845) 527-5672.

This Halloween, the Bakery hosts the 23rd annual Night of 100 Pumpkins contest. This free event traditionally includes refreshments and African drumming while viewing the pumpkins. This year, one of the musicians needs our help. Moustapha Diedhiou is recovering from head injuries from a recent fall from some scaffolding while painting. Visitors are encouraged to donate what they can to the jars placed around the Bakery on Halloween. For more information about Moustapha, visit The Bakery is located at 13 North Front Street in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-8840 or visit To learn more about the drum and dance party fundraiser in Stone Ridge on November 2, visit