Photos by Lauren Thomas
On the darkened shores of a lake, beyond a chain-link fence and a foreboding ‘No Trespassing’ sign, a large number of cars sat parked outside an eerie, abandoned hotel.
The hotel’s old front door went unused that night — chest-high weeds growing up nearly to the bottom of the windows. Only a few lights illuminated the interior, and in the background the sound of children laughing could barely be heard — like a phantom from the past.
Inside the old Williams Lake Hotel in Rosendale — with orange and black balloons, streamers, pumpkins and fake blood everywhere — everything was going to plan. Kids painted pumpkins at the table, while parents and young ones did a sack race to win donuts near a flickering Bates Motel sign.
Outside, nearer to the lake, families huddled up and took shelter from the chilly air around a bonfire.
The atmosphere and spookiness are all part of Rosendale’s annual Community Halloween Party. Sara McGinty is the president of the Rosendale Chamber of Commerce, which helps organize the event.
“It’s a very nice chamber tradition,” McGinty explained. “We’re always trying something different.”
This year marks an end point of sorts — or at least an epoch — for the celebration. Halloween partygoers were dealing with the realization that 2013 might be the last year at the old hotel. Next year, construction of the all new, mixed-use Williams Lake Resort should be underway.
Open from the 1920s until 2007, the building has played an important part of life in Rosendale. “The old hotel has a very deep history,” explained Tim Allred, with the Williams Lake Project.
Rosendale’s Halloween Party started, about five years ago, as a way to reopen the hotel to the community. “We wanted to give people a chance to come back to the hotel,” Allred said.
After more than six years of review, the new plans for the resort recently went before the citizens for a public hearing.
Before the party itself, UlsterCorps held its annual Service Sprint and Zombie Escape. UlsterCorps is an organization that tries to set up willing volunteers in Ulster County with open volunteer gigs.
Rosendale Chamber of Commerce relies heavily on volunteers to staff its big events — including the Halloween Party — throughout the year. Chamber officials are still looking for volunteers for Nov. 24’s 16th annual Rosendale Pickle Festival.
For more information about the Williams Lake Project, head to www.williamslakeproject.com.