“Big, scaly, hairy, feathered, fanged creatures: That’s the spirit I want to embody for the season!” So said Cristopher Livecchi on a Sunday in mid-October 2020 to a socially distanced group of fellow Kingstonians who had gathered in Forsyth Park. They were there to help establish a brand-new Halloween tradition, to replace the ones that couldn’t safely happen in a plague year: the All Hallows’ Eve Wild Rumpus.
The creatures Livecchi had in mind were the Wild Things from Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. While not required to dress up exactly like those exuberant beasties, the volunteers were asked to come up with full-body costumes and (preferably) head coverings. “Go big! The head should be very visible and sort of creepy,” the organizer urged. “Visibility is key. And noise is absolutely crucial. We want people to hear you coming down the street before they see you.”
In this event, happening between 5 and the 8 p.m. curfew on Halloween night, teams of four or five fantastically costumed Wild Things will swoop and swirl through the streets of Kingston, banging on drums, cowbells and tambourines, blowing on whistles, candy-bombing the doorsteps of families who have signed up to be part of the fun. Diane Reeder, proprietor of the Kingston Candy Bar and founder of the Queen’s Galley food pantry, has donated 50 pounds of candy to the effort, most of which will be bagged up for these door-to-door deliveries. Some of the volunteers also plan to carry loose candies in their pockets to toss at children they pass in the streets while on their appointed rounds.
In a year when wearing a mask on a daily basis has become the new normal, citizens like Livecchi have been trying to come up with creative ways to preserve community fun without compromising public health. He termed Halloween “the closest thing I have to a religious holiday,” but noted that “global pandemics are scarier” than the ghouls, goblins and chainsaw murderers who typically lurk on doorsteps on the last night of October. “I don’t want to see Halloween not happen. So I thought, ‘Why don’t we bring Halloween to the kids instead?’”
Growing up in a military family who moved from place to place frequently, Livecchi found himself challenged to make and keep friends and a sense of community engagement. Halloween found a special place in his heart as an occasion that brought children together. Even as an adult, he has made it a tradition to get together with friends to have a home horror movie festival or visit a haunted house attraction. He settled in Kingston in 2013 when his wife, Andrea Gatzke, found a position as a professor of History at SUNY-New Paltz. Livecchi himself teaches as an adjunct in the Department of Geography, tends bar at the Anchor and is the co-owner of World’s End Comics.
The couple have a three-year-old son, Simon, and couldn’t bear to see him deprived of a fun-filled Halloween this year. So, he reached out to Winston Queen, executive director of My Kingston Kids, who was looking for an alternative to that organization’s usual annual Halloween Fest. Together they decided to make the All Hallows’ Eve Wild Rumpus happen. “This was something I could do that benefits the community and doesn’t just entertain me,” said Livecchi. “I want this to be the kind of Halloween people will tell their children about.”
Wild Rumpus has 39 stops scheduled for the event’s inaugural year. But if Cristopher Livecchi has his way, and if other community organizations sign on for 2021, this could be the launch of a broader ongoing Kingston tradition, as durable as Sinterklaas, the Artists’ Soapbox Derby or the O+ Festival. So, keep an eye and an ear out for those Wild Things this Saturday evening. To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/events/640149576703919.
Local Halloween events:
Saturday, October 31, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Halloween at Ashokan. Live music by Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, all-ages costume parade with prizes, self-guided nature hikes on miles of trails. BYO blanket, lawn chairs; dress for the weather. $15 for adults (18+), $7.50 for kids (5-17, under 5 free) includes all activities and lunch in socially distanced dining hall. Preregister at www.eventbrite.com/e/halloween-at-ashokan-tickets-126570629159?aff=ebdssbdestsearch. Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge.
Saturday, October 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Minard’s 2020 Family Halloween/Trunk-or-Treat Event.
Trick-or-treat around the farm. Trunk-or-Treat with decorated cars (candy provided). Pumpkin Parade with costume contest. $11 per child includes all activities; purchase tickets at https://visitminardsfamilyfarms.ticketleap.com. Minard’s Family Farm, 250 Hurds Road, Clintondale. (845) 325-0222; www.minardsfamilyfarms.com.
Friday, October 30, 6-8 p.m.: Drive-Thru Trick-or-Treat event. Local businesses will be along the route in the orchard handing out candy. First 96 cars get a special goodie bag with a raffle ticket. Free. Hurds Family Farm, 2187 Route 32, Modena. (845) 883-7825; www.hurdsfamilyfarm.com.
Annual parade canceled.
New Paltz Youth Program haunted house canceled.
The Bakery’s Night of 100 Pumpkins relocated.
Saturday, October 31, Noon-4 p.m.: Grab & Go Trick-or-Treat Stations, each with free bags of candy, selfie photo backdrops, plus carved pumpkin displays organized by The Bakery. Locations: New Paltz Youth Program, 220 Main Street; Elting Library, 93 Main Street; Mobil Station parking area, Main/North Chestnut Street; Village Hall parking lot, 25 Plattekill Avenue; Reformed Church Educational Building, 92 Huguenot Street.
6-8 p.m.: Outdoor Halloween Display/Lit-Up Pumpkin Patch: New Paltz Youth Program, 220 Main Street. (845) 255-5140; email@example.com.
Noon-7 p.m.: Outdoor Twin-Star Orchard Trick-or-Treat festivities. Trick-or-treating and candy available at six different stations around the orchard. Live music from local performers all day. Free cider tastings. Artisanal wood-fired pizzas, burgers for sale. Free raffle ticket for guests in costume. Apple-picking available throughout the weekend. All guests must wear face masks or coverings at all times except while eating or drinking. Maximum 10 people per group. Admission is free; RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/e/outdoor-orchard-trick-or-treat-tickets-126441613269. Twin Star Orchards, 155 North Ohioville Road, New Paltz. (845) 633-8657; www.twinstarorchards.com.
6:30 p.m. curfew.
Annual Tillson Estates Halloween Party canceled.
Saturday, October 31, 3-5 p.m.: Halloween Movie House Spooktacular. Socially distanced walk-through of Rosendale Theatre. Free all-ages event will feature a Haunted Aisle and a No-Scare Fantasy Aisle. Guests will be given treats, and there will be a Photo Booth, with all photos downloadable online. COVID safety procedures will include mandatory masks, temperature-taking. Rosendale Theatre, 408 Main Street, Rosendale.
Saturday, October 31, 10-2 p.m.: Halloween at the Y. Costume parade, pumpkin-decorating, trick-or-treating, camp games, swim safety tips, refreshments. Free; preregister at (845) 338-3810 or https://ymcaulster.org/halloween. Camp Seewackamano, 432 Peck Road, Shokan.
Annual parade canceled.
Trick-or-treating at downtown businesses canceled.
Saturday, October 31, 3-5 p.m. The Woodstock Halloween That Wasn’t drive-through trick-or-treat. Woodstock Fire Co. 1, 242 Tinker Street, Bearsville flats; Company 3, 4123 Route 212, Lake Hill; Company 4, 443 Sawkill-Zena Road, Zena. (845) 679-9922.
A drive-thru trunk or treat for hunger will take place on Halloween, October 31 from noon to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Monsignor Moore Church Hall on 2212 Route 44/55 in Gardiner, across from St. Charles Borromeo Church. The event will benefit the church’s Helping Hands Food Pantry of Gardiner, which is in need of non-perishable donations to meet the growing needs of feeding the community.
People wishing to donate food will drive through the parking lot, drop off items, check out and vote for best decorated car trunk and leave with a treat bag for the children.