Photos by Lauren Thomas
Downtown Highland was a mass of costumes, ghosts, goblins, haunted hayrides and eager trick-or-treaters getting a jump on the Halloween festivities at Saturday night’s second annual Halloween in the Hamlet. According to the Lloyd Police Department, there were approximately 1,500 people at the event, and the opening Halloween costume parade had close to 400 children participating.
“It was excellent,” said town supervisor Paul Hansut. “The parade looped around the hamlet and the kids had some of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen. The restaurants downtown were packed and each restaurant and business provided candy for the kids when they went trick-or-treating after the parade. It was unbelievable!”
Kate Jonietz, the chairwoman of Lloyd’s Events Committee, said that she was shocked by the turnout. “Last year we thought it was very successful, but felt that maybe so many people turned out because Hurricane Sandy was threatening to hit us on the night of Halloween, so people wanted their kids to get a taste of the holiday. But this year, it was way bigger than last year; and we had people from other towns come and say it was the best Halloween event they’d ever been to.”
The parade was led by the 20th Century Limited Drum and Bugle Corps, whose members were dressed in their color guard outfits and played Halloween-themed songs like “The Monster Mash” and the Addams Family theme song. The grand marshal was Novalli Hanley, who was celebrating her 9th birthday that day, and the rear was brought up by Boy Scout Troop #70.
This was only the beginning of the festivities. There were haunted hayrides around the hamlet square, which was closed to traffic from Vineyard Avenue to Main Street. Audiences were delighted by the magic/illusionist show put on by two talented Highland High School students, Dan Russo and Harrison Lettieri, known as the “Dan and Harry Sideshow.”
The Interactive Group from the high school helped to lead trick-or-treaters around to all of the businesses and restaurants and handed out free popcorn. The high school French Club made crêpes for the crowds, the Ladies’ Auxiliary Club handed out fresh local apples and apple cider and the Lloyd Fire Department manned the firepit, where kids could roast marshmallows donated by Hannaford’s and parents could stay warm. Brooklyn Bottling was there with a fizzy green soda drink that was a huge hit, as well as candied apples.
Stage to Screen, located next to Hello Dolly Real Estate, created a full-character haunted house based on Frankenstein, with people in full costume and characters leading those brave enough to put their hands into plastic sleeves and feel vampires’ teeth, eyeballs, slime, animal guts and all types of gory things stored in the lab. “I went through it and I was totally creeped out!” said Jonietz. “They were amazing.”
The police department was on hand to ensure safety, but also to participate, as officers set up haybales and handed out treats to the kids. “I can’t say enough about our police department, how supportive they are of the events we put on for the community,” said Jonietz.
There were costume contests with prizes donated by local businesses. Two of the more original ones included a girl dressed up with a fake man on her back holding a box, while her hands clasped the top of the box. It made it look like there was a skeleton carrying her, but it was all one person and a creative costume that portrayed a scary illusion. Her friend was dressed as some wild swamp creature, walking on stilts with stilt arms, dressed in black cheesecloth with moss and slime growing off her and a large mask that looked like a deranged and terrifying creature from deep beneath the swamps. “In all of the years that I’ve participated in our local Halloween parades, these were two of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen,” said Jonietz.
It was a communitywide, family-oriented event that was put on by the Town of Lloyd Events Committee, in conjunction with the Downtown Business Association. “We’re really starting to be known for our seasonal events and more and more people are coming to them, knowing that they’re going to be fun, have plenty of activities and unique aspects that families can enjoy — and it really brings our community together,” said Jonietz.