Hudson Valley Halloween Contest

Share your Halloween tale for a chance to win tickets to the sold out Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

We asked readers to share their scariest, funniest, or most memorable Halloween stories, mishaps, or tall tales (photo optional) for a chance to win four free tickets to the SOLD OUT Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Without further ado: we present the winner (and honorable mentions) of our annual contest. Thanks for sharing!

Alex Drum

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na… BATMAN!

Halloween Contest Grand Prize Winner

Alex Drum, Brooklyn:
“October 31, 1989, Rochester, New York. I was eight years old and, like every other kid at that time, was still on cloud nine from Tim Burton’s Batman. My grandmother was pretty amazing behind a sewing machine and told me that she could make it happen, so I was beyond excited. On Halloween I would show up to school dressed as Michael Keaton’s slick new version of Batman and receive the praise and admiration of my peers that I rightfully deserved.
As you can see from the picture, my grandmother never saw the movie. Her Batman was Adam West, and now so was I.
Looking at it now, the costume is pretty amazing. But back in ’89 I might as well have showed up to school dressed as the Little Mermaid. Those are the kind of days in your formative years that you can hang your character on now, but felt unrelenting at the time. In hindsight, you wouldn’t trade for the world.”

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Honorable Mentions

Sarah Andrews, Lagrangeville:
“In nursery school, a classmate had a Halloween party. I dressed in a bunny costume that my grandmother made by hand: It was an uncomfortable gray onesie with big floppy ears and, of course, a fluffy poof of a tail on the back. This costume was embarassing! Years went by, and our paths crossed again. I had tried to forget that memory of that bunny costume, until one sleepover at her house when her mother decided to print out the picture and remind everyone just how long ago me and my friend met. I was mortified… I didn’t know there was any documentation to prove that bunny suit ever existed!”

Amika Berrios
Photograph courtesy of Amika Berrios

Amika Berrios, Poughquag:
“My husband and I moved to Tennessee for a short period of time after we first got married two years ago. We are both born and raised New Yorkers and gave living in the south a try for our first year of marriage.
I was so pumped for Halloween that year and I went crazy buying decorations, costumes, and candy… LOTS OF CANDY. We had over a hundred children living in our neighborhood and I was expecting there to be major trick-or-treating traffic, so I was most definitely prepared!
The forecast was showing that there might be a chance of rain that night. Well, the forecast was a little off. There was a torrential downpour. The 100+ kids in our neighborhood heard the bad news from the mayor that Halloween was in fact CANCELED (how could they!?) and my husband and I spent our evening fully dressed in costume with our dogs, also in adorable costume, at the bottom of our stairs under a mattress for safety as we witnessed for the first time tornado sirens.
That Halloween was by far the most terrifying, and also one we look back and laugh. The five jumbo bags of candy lasted us for over a year, something my sweet tooth was very happy about! I will never forget our most memorable Halloween in Tennessee!”

MaryEllen Byrne, Poughkeepsie:
“What better place to have an autumn adventure with your five-year-old than the cemetery in Sleepy Hollow? We drove in one beautiful fall afternoon with our picnic goodies and enjoyed walking around the grounds. After we rode over the infamously creaky bridge of Headless Horseman fame, we discovered — much to our shock and dismay — that the gates were barred. We were trapped inside the cemetery and it was about to get dark! We drove through the grounds with the hope that we’d find an alternate exit, but alas, we were in for the night. We must have been a sight standing at the gate waving our arms and shouting for help to the passing cars. However, no help was coming. Finally, my son’s father climbed over the stone wall adjacent to the 40-foot gates and, with his back to the stone bridge and his fingers spread, he tip-toed slowly, step by scary step, along the stone precipice over the creek. He safely made it to the other side and asked the gas station attendant for some advice. Everyone got a good laugh on us, and the many others who get stuck routinely in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery — but most especially the gatekeeper, who secretly loves locking people in!”

patricia carney
Patricia Carney of Sparkill shares her Disney-themed Halloween memory

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Patricia Carney, Sparkill:
“Greatest fun at Disney’s Halloween Party.”

Dina Ellis, Poughkeepsie:
“Seeing a house’s front lawn completely decorated like it was a stage show. Every member of the family participated and it was awesome. They had it done right, with every scary touch imaginable. We stayed there for quite sometime just watching. It was in a Wappingers neighborhood. We have never seen anything like that again. The kids loved it up.”

Laura Fernandez, Brooklyn:
“My most memorable Halloween story happened in 2006. I was very, VERY pregnant with my second child. Being that I lived in Brooklyn and my hospital was in Staten Island, I was very worried that I would go into labor on Marathon Sunday and not make it over the bridge. I had a check-up on the morning of October 30 and, due to complications with my first pregnancy, had a sneaking suspicion that my doctor was going to induce labor and my son would be born on Halloween. Lo and behold, he did send me to the hospital. This was an all-day affair, and although I was grateful not to get stuck in Marathon Sunday traffic, I started to worry about the implications of having a Halloween baby. I worried about stupid things, like sharing the same day and not being able to celebrate the best of both worlds on two separate occasions — sort of like when babies are born on Christmas. I know, very silly and minute, but this was my concern at the moment. My doctor finally arrived at the hospital. He joked that we can just wait a couple of hours more and make him a Halloween baby, to which I yelled ‘NO!’ Amidst the blaring of Nine Inch Nails (yes, my doctor LOVED blasting his rock music), my little pumpkin was born at 8:30 p.m., just three-and-a-half hours shy of being that Halloween baby (even though we still refer to him as our Halloween baby)! I’m glad he gets to enjoy his two separate days — it makes for a longer celebration.”

Ann Marie Geremino, Milton:
“When I was a kid, I was staying at a neighborhood friend’s house after trick-or-treating together. We were in her basement, and we heard a noise and looked up at the small casement window just above ground. We saw two yellow eyes staring at us. We started screaming and nearly knocked each other over trying to get up the stairs to the safety of her parents. Her father grabbed a broom and went outside. He returned laughing with the “monster”: my dog had apparently tracked me to her home and was as scared as us because of the commotion!”

Elizabeth Janik, Mahopac:
“My favorite memory is going to Lake Compounce every Halloween and going in the Haunted Graveyard with actors jumping and chasing after you, people screaming, laughing, running, and most of all having a great time! Then afterward, going on the roller coaster in the woods in the pitch black where when you get out of the station and you can’t see a thing or what’s coming at you. It’s a great family tradition we have been doing for years, and will continue to do in the many years to come!”

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Thomas Kulsha, Peekskill:
“My mom had wrapped me up totally in strips of bedsheet to make me a mummy when I was eight years old. Trick-or-treating with my brother and sister that Halloween night, I recall not being able to move too well or even see clearly as we walked the neighborhood. All I could do was follow anyone from door to door and hope that I was keeping up, let alone wondering how I was doing on candy collection. It was at one point that I realized that I had lost my fellow treaters and had wandered alone, only going back to the same houses by mistake as I was told ‘Mummy, you were just here!’
Mind you I could not find in the dark even how to unravel myself out of this. I heard my name being called from some blocks away, as my brother came to my rescue, took a length of bedsheet, tied it around his waist, and proclaimed himself as my new guiding light. He pulled me around like dog on a leash, here, there, and everywhere back to collecting candy, as he had earlier strung his trick-or-treat bag on my outwardly extended arm at his convenience, only for me to have it slip off my arm at one point (to be found by another lucky trick or treater).
I cried all night when I got home, as my long-awaited mummy character for Halloween had failed, lost candy, got lost, and lost all faith as ever going out for Halloween again. The following year, guess what my brother wanted to be? I eagerly helped him with the costume.”

Pat Lopez, Rock Hill:
“I visited a Halloween site in Mesa, Arizona. The line to get in was long. While I stood in line, I turned to see someone dressed up as CARRIE. She was covered in blood, and kept coming after me. I kept yelling and running away from her. I was never so scared in my life!”

Kimberly Puletz, Wappingers Falls:
“Good natured pranks are a staple in my family. We have always delighted (perhaps a little too much) in jumping out from behind doors at one another. Nothing says, ‘I love you!’ like taking a few years off the life of a beloved family member, am I right?
It has also been a long-standing tradition in my family that I spend Halloween with them and hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. Being on a well-lit street with sidewalks means we get literally hundreds of trick-or-treaters each year. You’re guaranteed to see a lot of great costumes and get in a few good scares.
The joke was on me one year. I arrived at my parents’ home and quickly went to their guest room to put down my things and get settled in. Later that evening as I was pulling back the blankets on the bed, I was greeted by an array of cockroaches and snakes of the rubber variety. They were ‘gifts’ that I had previously bought for my young nephew. I suppose others got tired of being on the receiving end of his pranks and encouraged him to turn the tables on his snake-fearing aunt. That’s a Halloween I won’t soon forget!”

Crystle Regulbuto, Walden:
“When I was nine, trick-or-treating with my two younger brothers, my mom and dad made us homemade costumes. My brothers were a ghost and a clown, respectively, and I was the tooth fairy, wearing my puffy blue flower girl dress from my aunt’s wedding and a homemade giant toothbrush out of a scrub brush!”

Barbara Roche
Photograph courtesy of Barbara Roche

Barbara Roche, Montrose:
“Halloween has always been big in my house. I took my son to so many events and contests. When he aged out, I took my dog. Here’s a picture that shows her as excited as my son often looked. The Blaze is incredible. My son and I volunteered on it on year one and never did we imagine it would take off so far.”

Jean Tagliamonte, Hyde Park:
“One Halloween we were trick-or-treating, and a grown man in a chicken costume passed us as we were crossing the street. Of course I said to him, ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ He wasn’t nearly as amused as you’d expect a grown man in a chicken suit to be.”

Liza Vitale, Hopewell Junction:
“I took my kids to a haunted house that led us outside to more scary fun. It started pouring, and as the characters were chasing us, my youngest ran off a different direction. It was dark, so I ran to go after her — and I fell in mud and broke my ankle. I left dirty and limping like I was part of the entertainment.”

Pat Wendler, Wallkill:
“Years ago, my husband and I took our seven-year-old son to Tarrytown around Halloween to enjoy all the fall colors and decorations. Late in the afternoon we went to Sleepy Hollow cemetery to walk around. It started to get dark, so we decided to leave — but the front gate was locked. We were locked in Sleepy Hollow cemetery near Halloween! And we all kept looking around hoping the Headless Horseman wouldn’t come, hee hee! Still talk about it to this day.”

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