It Was a Dark and Stormy Night….
Dress, Linda Filley; mask, Deborah Coconis, at Paper Trail
What do kids, dogs, drag queens, and ghosts have in common? They’re all batty for Halloween. But then, who isn’t? What follows is a (no doubt incomplete) compendium of Halloween revels for adults. For child-friendly Halloween activities, please see our Kids Calendar.
The Mount, the grand, neo-classical house in Lenox that the writer Edith Wharton contrived and built with the architect Ogden Codman, Jr., is aesthetically impeccable. Even so, it offered Wharton little solace from a wretched marriage that ultimately ended in divorce (at the time, unthinkable for a woman of Wharton’s class). The Mount was also one of the many places where Wharton engaged in an activity considered so bizarre her family chose to ignore it: she wrote novels (oh dear) that got published (how crass) and made her famous (beyond the pale). She even won a Pulitzer Prize, the first woman ever so honored for a work of fiction (The Age of Innocence). Her family’s response: Embarrassed silence.
No wonder that heap is haunted! In fact, the Mount (right) has been the scene of spine-tingling Halloween activities all week, with afternoon ghost-story readings Monday through Thursday. But things get really spooky on Friday evening with special holiday ghost tours at 6 and 7 p.m. Then on Saturday night, the phantoms pull out the stops with a special “enhanced” Halloween tour at 11 p.m. that takes the unwary beyond the house into even spookier parts of the estate. Stories are free; the tours, which are not suitable for small children, are $25 and $35. Advance reservations required.
The ghosts of Livingstons long gone conduct the tours at their family’s beautiful riverfront home, now known as Clermont State Historic Site. On these special evening tours, guests are invited to join a 1921 Halloween party in full swing, complete with fortune tellers, a 1916-style Ouija board, and elaborate, meticulously researched decorations from the twenties, considered the “golden age” of Halloween. These set the stage for a seance, which, at one point, goes awry. The lights go out, and the house fills with ghosts from the Revolutionary War era with tales to tell. The tour continues outside on the lantern-lit grounds and culminates with a marshmallow roast around an outdoor fire, surrounded by the flickering Jack-o-Lanterns. Reservations highly recommended. Again, these tours are not for tots.
Neither is Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion (left) in Poughkeepsie, The Haunted Mansion in Rhinebeck, nor Frankenstein’s Fortress in Stanfordville. In fact, these seasonal haunted houses are for the sort of teens and young adults who by temperament or training have such an appetite for terror, they’re disappointed unless they’ve been scared out of their wits. Some say Rhinebeck is scarier than Poughkeepsie, others prefer Stanfordville, an annual community project under the direction of Peter Wing, creator of Wing’s Castle, the fantasy property (ostensibly a future B & B) built entirely of refuse retrieved from the Millbrook dump. After this weekend, all three houses will be closed until next Fall.
Several restaurants in our region will host costume and dance parties with either live music or a DJ and such creepy menus offerings as the Rhinecliff Hotel‘s Rotten Hors D’oeuvres and American Glory‘s Smokin’ Barbecue Buffet. These parties are open to the public, but revelers, who are expected to wear costumes, should call ahead and reserve. Reservations are also recommended at Sundog Solar’s costume and dance party at Solaqua in Chatham. and, of course, at Club Helsinki‘s costume party, where Chris & Lolly Swicegood (he plays piano, she sings) will perform songs from their just-released debut CD, which was produced in Hudson by Henry Hirsch, Lenny Kravitz’s longtime producer.
Leave all reservations of every sort outside The Witches Ball, a dance party and costume contest to benefit the Valley Alliance to Save the South Bay. Co-presented by the performer Musty Chiffon and the Red Dot restaurant, this blow-out at the Cannonball Factory (361 Columbia Street, near the corner of Fourth; 9 p.m.) will have both live music (the Mother Fletcher band), and a DJ (Gio), as well as appearances by the performers Trixie Starr and, of course, the party’s co-host Musty Chiffon. On the stroke of midnight cash prizes will be awarded for best costumes ($100, $200, and $300). This is a cash-only event; admission, $20 at the door.
And, finally, a Halloween party for pooches at the Dog Run at Roeliff Jansen Park, with prizes for the best costume, games, and snacks; 10 a.m., Route 22, one-half mile south of the Route 23 intersection in Hillsdale, NY.