The Headless Horseman Rides!
Witchingtonville Draws 4,500
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Washingtonville officially put itself on the map as one of the top Halloween event destinations in the Hudson Valley with its second annual Witchingtonville Family Festival, which drew 4,500 visitors on Oct. 20.
With perfect weather and a carefully planned flow to the event at Vern Allen Park organized by six moms who make up the Washingtonville Community Events Council, the festival’s favorites all returned from last year like its signature giant Spooky Barrel Slide; costume parade; Wagon Wheel hayride through the Zombie Trail with fog machine and Washingtonville High School drama students supplying scary thrills; children’s lawn games involving skulls, eyeballs, and witches’ hats; bounce houses; ghoulish dance performances; DJ Jeff Blizard; and cars lavishly decorated in different themes for the massive Trunk-or-Treat. But this year saw even more fun with a magic show; stilt walker; Escape Room; live music by The Vibe; an explosion of craft vendors; a true variety of food stalls; and an all-new sensory-gentle first half-hour of trunk-or-treating dedicated to children with special needs. Many mothers were moved to tears by what they said was a profound gesture made by the event organizers for this special time which meant they too could enjoy Witchingtonville with their families. “Such a simple half-hour that was so easy for us to do,” one teen volunteer said, “made a world of difference for so many kids.” Also new to the festival were colored bracelets letting children into the trunk-or-treat every half hour to reduce congestion.
Rebecca Akers, Martha Barrera, Denni Lozza, Lindsay Mitchell, Erika Snell, and Maaike Wiegman-Leavey put on the entire event, which charged no admission, with assistance from many volunteers from the Washingtonville community. They said the joy on the faces of so many children and parents once again made the herculean task of executing Witchingtonville worth it, including the many weeks of preparation prior to the event itself.
What many considered to be the icing on the cake was the Headless Horseman who silently galloped around on a black stallion with black cape flying, courtesy of the Corinthian Equestrian Center. He let children pet his steed, but did not speak (as he had no head), and vanished into the fog as darkness fell. It was actually a she under the button-down black costume and boots, but the point is moot — the Headless Horseman will certainly be invited back next year.
Speaking of next year, organizers said they are already planning adjustments and alterations, and welcome volunteers to help out. Mayor Joe Bucco, who has actively supported Washingtonville’s recent revitalization, thanked the Washingtonville Police Department, the village DPW, the Monell and Salisbury Mills Volunteer Fire Police, the Town of Blooming Grove and Kevin Radday for the shuttle buses from Lasser Park and the village municipal lots, and the Country Kids Food Pantry.
The next large event in Washingtonville will be the Christmas Parade on Dec. 1, which will likely draw well over 3,000 people. Organized by the Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce, it now includes added holiday attractions in center square by the Washingtonville Community Events Council. As always, Santa will light the Christmas tree, and volunteers are welcome to help make the parade, known for its decorated firetrucks, an event to remember.
CAPTION 1: Witchingtonville drew 4,500 visitors to Washingtonville on Oct. 20. (Photo by Derek Robertson)
CAPTION 2: The Headless Horseman galloped around the festival with black cape flying. (Photo by Sara Howell)
CAPTION 3: History came alive with George Washington, Uncle Sam, little Martha Washington, and a friend. (Photo provided)
CAPTION 4: Washingtonville PD chief Zaccaro questioned Celina Rofer as she gathered recyclables for the Lions Den Inclusive Playground project. (Photo provided)
More photos and great stories in this week’s Orange County Post