Halloween thrills, chills boiled up in the Valley

Oct. 22, 2012
Photos courtesy of Skeleton Crew Theater of Greenfield, Mass., and Roger Williams Park Zoo's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, R.I.
By Katelyn Gendron


GREATER SPRINGFIELD — According to Tom Laughlin, founder of Chicopee Paranormal Investigators (CPI), there are two types of people in this world when it comes to otherworldly activity: the true believer and the skeptic.

For those who believe or don't, they'll have the opportunity to participate in various activities throughout the Pioneer Valley surrounding All Hallow's Eve (Oct. 31) and The Day of the Dead (Nov. 1), including a reveal of CPI's findings at Ventfort Hall Mansion in Lenox on Oct. 30. The event, which is a fundraiser to help restorations on the building, will allow participants to see and hear those who've made contact, Laughlin explained.

"There's nothing to fear. We haven't had a bad experience [at Ventfort Hall] yet. Whatever is there doesn't like me and it does say that it hates me but it's never done anything to harm there. There's also a female EVP [electronic voice phenomena] there. We hear a VP, a voice phenomenon, with our ears. There's a female voice there who wants to communicate," he explained to Reminder Publications.

Laughlin said that while reveals, such as the one on Oct. 30, can be for all ages, CPI's upcoming Open to the Public event on Nov. 17 is only for those 18 years or older. Call Brenda O'Brien at 537-0033 to sign up.

"In theory, children hold a lot of energy from growing hormones and a spirit that can attach themselves to that. My house [in Chicopee] was haunted and I saw an old lady and it used to scare me but in the end it inspired me [to found CPI] because I live back in the same house. It's not like what the movies and TV make it out to be. They're not out to get us; 99 percent of them want to communicate with us," he said.

Other events throughout the region include Haunted Hayrides for kids and adults at McCray's Farm in South Hadley; Longmeadow Historical Society's "Ghosts in the Graveyard" at the Olde Burying Yard on Oct. 26; a historic walk of Forestdale Cemetery with Holyoke City Historian Penni Martorell on Oct. 28 and 29; and Skeleton Crew Theater's Halloween Harvest Festival in Greenfield on Oct. 27.

The crew's Harvest Festival is a benefit for the Dakin Humane Society, the Hampden Food Bank, and other organizations. The group incorporates actors and crew members from West Springfield and throughout the region, according to Jonathan Chappell, creator and artistic director.

"We think of ourselves as the right mix of adventure and theater. Our guests go on a 'hero's journey,' a 45-minute guided journey though the woods [at Camp Kee-Wanee] where they will encounter larger than life ani-mechanical characters, like our big troll Burt, his younger brother William and the wise old 'Dark Barks.' We 'break the fourth wall' and engage the audience to answer riddles, find clues and solve puzzles so our guests become active participants in the play, and depending on the choices they make, they will help to control the outcome," he explained.

"We consider ourselves a 'spooky' show, and not a scary show with 'boo scares,' blood gore and the 'clown with a chain saw.' There are some great ones like that in our area, so we wanted to be unique and offer a Halloween adventure that's right for the whole family ... We take a lot of inspiration from the great Jim Henson and his movies like 'The Dark Crystal' and 'Labyrinth,'" he added.

Laurie Hatch, secretary for the Longmeadow Historical Society and coordinator of "Ghosts in the Graveyard" described the annual event as wildly successful fundraiser for the organization with more than 200 people in attendance.

Participants will learn about the history of the town's founders and most popular settlers dating back to the 1600s, including Rev. Stephen Williams, Richard Storrs and members of the Cordis family, who still have relatives in the area, Hatch explained.

"Thomas Francis Cordis fought in the Civil War and survived many battles. [He and] Annie, his wife, were some of the first settlers in Longmeadow," Hatch said, adding that she is a descendent of family.

To learn more about the event, which costs $5 per person, email Hatch at laurhatch@aol.com.

Martorell also described the cemetery walking tour in Holyoke as an educational celebration of the city's founders, such as the Parsons family, the Skinner family, and the Dreikorn family, all of who contributed to Holyoke's industrial past.

To sign up, contact Wistariahust Museum at 322-5660.

The following is a list of Halloween-themed events throughout the region.

Oct. 24

Passport to Halloween Fun — Grab your Halloween passport to begin your fun and creepy adventure at East Springfield Public Library, 21 Osborne Terrace, Springfield, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. During your visit to the haunted library, participants will come across some fun activities including games, crafts, contests and treats. This event is for those age 3 to 13. For more information, call 263-6840 or email tlabroad@springfieldlibrary.org.

Oct. 26

"A Little Nightmare Music: A Halloween Concert for Organs, Voices and an Odd Assortment of Instruments" — At 7 p.m. South Congregational Church, 45 Maple St., Springfield, will welcome performers Larry Picard and Grant Moss, organs, Anita Cooper, Carol Wrobleski, Marco Bonilla, singers, and the Dead Ringers Handbell Choir. Free will donation. For information, call 732-0117 or email lpicard@sococh.org.

Costume Party — South Hadley Family Center will have a costume party at St. Theresa's Church, 9 East Parkview Drive, South Hadley, from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 533-7096.

Ghosts in the Graveyard — The Longmeadow Historical Society will welcome the public to Olde Burying Yard, located adjacent to First Church, 763 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, at 6:30 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to walk the Burying Yard — and just might come across ghostly characters lurking about the graveyard to share information and lore from the distant past. The suggested donation for adults is $5.

Haunted House — The YMCA of Greater Westfield, 56 Court St., Westfield, is bringing back its annual Haunted House for the 25th consecutive year. The hauntings will be from 8 to 11 p.m. Tickets available at the door. This event is not recommended for children ages 7 and younger.

Halloween Sing-A-Long — Roger Ticknell will lead a family sing-a-long full of fun, silly holiday songs from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. at Mittineague Park, 3020 Cowles Lane, West Springfield. After the show, kids will all get a special treat. In case of bad weather, the event will take place at West Springfield Middle School, 31 Middle School Drive. For more information, call 781-3020.

Kids' Nite Out — The Longmeadow Parks & Recreation Department will host a Kids' Nite Out Halloween Party for children ages 4 to 11 from 5:45 to 8:45 p.m. Drop the kids off for a safe and supervised party while adults enjoy a night out. To sign up, call 565-4160.

"Mysteries of the Mansion" — Wistariahurst Museum, 238 Cabot St., Holyoke, will offer "Mysteries of the Mansion" from 7 to 9 p.m. See Wistariahurst with new eyes on a scavenger hunt throughout the elegant Skinner Mansion. Reservations necessary. Registration is $20 per team of four or $6 per individual (to be placed on a team).

YMCA Halloween Party — Join the YMCA of Greater Westfield, 56 Court St., Westfield, from 6 to 8 p.m., for a night of mummy races, spooky crafts, carnival games and more. Parents and children will be entered in our best costume contests for a chance to win prizes.

Oct. 27

"Boo Blast" — Holyoke Merry-Go-Round's annual Halloween "Boo Blast" on Oct. 27 and 28 will allow patrons to be treated to half-priced rides, provided they wear their Halloween costume. The Merry-Go-Round is located at Heritage State Park, 221 Appleton St., Holyoke.

Candlelight Tour — Tour Wistariahust Museum, 238 Cabot St., Holyoke, by candlelight if you dare! Walk through the darkened hallways and rooms of the spooky Skinner Mansion on a rare guided tour at night. Reservations are necessary. Tickets are $10 per person.

Costume Party — Fountain Park, 883 Tinkham Road, Wilbraham, will host a Spooktacular Halloween Costume Party from 1 to 4 p.m. The whole family can dress up and enjoy a spirited storyteller, batty balloon art, creepy crafts, spellbinding snack, and a ghostly goodie bag. For more information, call 596-2712.

Halloween Breakfast Buffet — The American Legion Auxiliary, 74 Pleasant St., Granby, will have a Halloween Breakfast Buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. Tickets are $5 each and children younger than 5 eat free. Purchase tickets in advance by calling Lois Pare at 467-9254, Lorraine Uhlig at 534-0663 or Marion Roberts at 467-3268. Tickets will also be sold at the door. Proceeds from the breakfast will go to the Auxiliary's Scholarship Fund and Aid to the Veteran's Fund.

Halloween Harvest Festival — The Skeleton Crew Theater is hosting a Halloween Harvest Festival from noon to 6 p.m. at Camp Kee-Wanee in Greenfield. The event is a benefit for Blue Star Equiculture, the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, Camp Kee-Wanee, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Highlights of the festival include performances by the theater company themselves, along with hayrides, a scarecrow village, kids games and activities, food, arts and crafts vendors, and live music all day long. For more information, call 475-0913.

Halloween Party at Storrs — Storrs Library, 693 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, will have a Halloween Party sponsored by the Longmeadow High School Community Service Class. There will be games, crafts, scavenger hunts, a story and a movie from 1:30 to 3 p.m. This program is for those age 3 and older.

Halloween Spooktacular — Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, will offer various activities during its Halloween Spooktacular from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The events, including "Animals of the Night" and "Laser Spooktacular," are free with museum admission.

Jeepers Creepers: Ghouls & Goblins! — The Holyoke Parks & Recreation Department has joined with Wistariahurst Museum, 238 Cabot St., Holyoke, to offer this program from 1 to 4 p.m. The fun-filled event will include music, magic performances, games, crafts, goodie bags and more. Admission: $2 per child or $10 for families of five or more children. All attendees are encouraged to come in costume. Registration suggested. This event is rain or shine.

Mom's Club Halloween Festival — The East Longmeadow Public Library Mom's Club will host a Halloween Festival for families with kids up to 9 years at the library, 60 Center Square, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come for sweets, games, costumes and more. For more information, call 525-5400.

Pancake Breakfast — The Friends of the Senior Center, 128 Park St., West Springfield, will host a pancake breakfast Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased in advance or the day of the event. Participants are encouraged to come in costume to display their Halloween spirit. Special treats will be given to all children.

Oct. 28

Halloween in the Park! — Very special events are planned for the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, Children's Museum and Visitor Center. For more information, visit www.holyokemerrygoround.org.

Halloween Party — Amelia Park Children's Museum, 29 South Broad St., Westfield, will have a special Halloween celebration from 1 to 4 p.m., with a costume parade, special treats, exciting decorations, and one pumpkin per visitor (for carving or painting). For more information or to sign up, call 572-4014.

Historic Cemetery Walk — Join Holyoke City Historian Penni Martorell for an insightful walking tour through Forestdale Cemetery established in 1862. Walks will occur on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m., and on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Reservations necessary by calling Wistatiahurst Museum. Admission is $7.

Oct. 29

Halloween Craft — Southwick Public Library, 95 Feeding Hills Road, Southwick, will offer Halloween Crafts on Oct. 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Oct. 31 from 1 to 8 p.m. Materials will be available for three days during regular library hours.

Slightly Spooky Storytime — Central Library, 220 State St., Springfield, will offer this storytime in the Children's Room from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This program is best for those age 3 to 8 years. No registration is required. For more information, call 263-6828 ext. 201.

Oct. 30

"Behind Closed Doors: Trick or Treat Night" — This is an exclusive women's evening and open house from 5 to 9 p.m., at Denise Smith Photography, 40 Crane Ave., East Longmeadow. The first 40 guests receive a free goodie bag and those who come dressed as a pin-up receive a free mini session that evening. "Behind Closed Doors" is a Boudoir and Pin-Up style photography experience. For more information, visit http://denisesmithphotography.com.

Ghostology 101 — East Longmeadow Public Library, 60 Center Square, East Longmeadow, will offer Ghostology 101 at 6:30 p.m. A basic introduction to the paranormal world covering types of hauntings, apparitions, do's and don'ts for investigations, and many other related topics as well. This program is for both teens and adults. No registration is required.

Paranormal Activities — Chicopee Paranormal Investigators bring their equipment to Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox to check out the paranormal activity in the historic house from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. This event is best for teens and parents. Reservations required by calling 536-1811.

Oct. 31

Halloween Hoopla — Join the Westfield Senior Center on Main Street for a Halloween celebration on Oct. 31. Event includes door prizes and a raffle. Costumes encouraged. Enjoy a lunch of pumpkin soup and Sloppy Joes, with apple crisp for dessert. Tickets: $3.

Halloween Luncheon — The West Springfield Senior Center, 128 Park St., are hosting a Halloween luncheon Oct. 31 at 11:30 a.m. "From the Neck Up" is a festive contest where participants can decorate their face or head and be eligible to win a prize. Tickets: $2.50 for seniors, $3.75 for those younger than 60. To register or for info, call 263-3265.

Halloween Parade and Storytime — At 10 a.m., the Westfield Athenaeum, 6 Elm St., will read not-so-scary stories, sing Halloween songs and invite patrons ages 3 to 5 to join in a Halloween costume parade around the library. Register by Oct. 23. Call 562-6158 for more information.

Halloween Storytime — Youth ages 3 years and older are invited to a special Halloween themed story time at the Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., South Hadley, at 11 a.m. Come in costume and hear "The Monsters' Monster and Creepy Carrots" read by the staff. For more information, call 534-7307.

Teen Day of the Dead Program — Southwick Public Library, 95 Feeding Hills Road, Southwick, from 3 to 4 p.m. In preparation for Day of the Dead on Nov. 1, teens are invited to decorate sugar skulls. The skulls and all supplies will be available for this free program open to seventh to 12th graders. Registration is not required.

Ongoing Events

Haunted Hayrides — Rides will take place Friday to Sunday through Halloween from 5 to 6:45 p.m. or at 7 p.m. at McCray's Farm, 33 Alvord St., South Hadley. Munchkin Rides (for kids) take place earlier in the evening — best for kids 7 and younger (and their grown-ups). Rides for big kids begin at 7 p.m. and run until the line is gone. For more information, call 533-0775.

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