Witchingtonville Is Coming!
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Listed as one of the top ten attractions in the Hudson Valley, Washingtonville’s own creation “Witchingtonville” is coming back to Vern Allen Park for its second year on Oct. 20 from 2:00-8:00 p.m. The event took its native town by storm last year when no less than 3,500 people showed up from around the county and beyond, surprising its main creator, Washingtonville resident Rebecca Akers.
“We had spread the word via social media and family sites online,” Akers had said last year, but said she hadn’t expected so many people, who arrived in droves to enjoy the trunk-or-treating, costume parade, giant slide fashioned out of hay-bales and three-foot-gauge black drainage pipe, hay-ride through a zombie-filled haunted forest, create-a-witch crafts, dance performance, vendors, and more. While the crowd was not a security issue, the sudden and unexpected parking situation had been challenging for the Washingtonville Police Department to manage, especially since the Vern Allen lot had been occupied by the trunk-or-treat.
This year, parking will be available in all the village’s municipal lots as well as at Lasser Park, with shuttle buses provided for free by generous individuals. Like all the events put on by the Washingtonville Community Events Council (begun as an arm of the Placemaking movement, now its own entity), Witchingtonville is organized and run by a group of six women dedicated to making it even better than it was last year, now armed with the expectation of visitors from out of town. Many parents and kids have said they will park on the streets and ride their bikes in, or leave their cars in their driveways and walk or bike ride to Vern Allen if they live in the village.
New to the event this year is a mobile escape room called “Head for the Exit,” which places visitors in a locked room armed with puzzles, riddles, and hidden clues that must be solved in order to escape before time runs out. While the festival is family-oriented, teenagers and adults have expressed interest in the escape room. Members of the events committee tried out the room a few months ago and failed to escape. “It’s not simple,” Akers said.
Like last year, there will be activities for all ages including field games (like sack races) and tent games (like biting for dangling donuts and feel-what’s-inside-the-box). And of course the Gross Family Zombies (latex creatures hand crafted by Andy and Heidi Gross and their daughter Trinity) will be back to frighten teens and adults.
Akers’ familiar tag-line “it takes a village…and ours is the best” is something she takes to heart when designing and executing events with the Council. One parent who attended the Witchingtonville Festival last year, and plans on taking her kids again, said, “Our town comes together in bad times, but we also come together to create good times, things for our children to bind them to home.”
The event could not happen without its vendors, the Council said, many of whom are keystone local businesses, eateries, craftspeople, and artisans, as well as support from the Washingtonville Village Board under Mayor Joe Bucco, who has been actively involved in village events. For more detailed information on Witchingtonville, go to the Facebook pages “Witchingtonville 2018” and “Washingtonville Community Events.”
CAPTION: Last year’s inaugural Witchingtonville festival drew a large crowd, some here shown enjoying the giant hay-bale slide. This year’s event on Oct. 20 promises to be even better, Washingtonville Community Events Council members said. (Photo provided)
Lots more great pictures and stories in this week’s Orange County Post.