Halloween In Queens
Halloween haunts lay hidden throughout Queens, in places where scary specters rise to welcome the fearful and those who believe in things that go bump in the night.
Many of the great masters of literature wrote of ghosts and spiritual beings, conjuring up some of the world’s classic horror stories. Who can forget Poe’s The Raven, or the tick-tick-ticking of his Tell-Tale Heart?
What is a ghost? Is it the earthbound spirit of the dead? Or are ghosts and poltergeists merely energy forces, or blurred images of careless time travelers or the spectral bodies of beings lost in a netherworld?
Whatever they are, paranormal researchers agree that ghosts do exist. People feel them, see them and hear them. Clergy are called upon, time after time, to exorcise them. They stir our curiosity and defy our sense of reality, leaving their mark in the eerie annals of history.
So here’s to the phantom of the Flushing Town Hall, to the ghostly presence at Bowne House, to a magician named Harry and to all the ghosties and ghoulies. These are their stories:
John Bowne House
Just who is the ghostly spirit rattling around the oldest building in Queens? Could it be the specter of John Bowne, once master of the house?
While no one can know for sure if there is a ghost, visitors to the 349-year-old Bowne House in Flushing have long told tales of a friendly presence there, described as a colonial-era spirit.
The landmark house, built in 1661, was owned by Queens settler, John Bowne. Bowne’s belief in religious freedom led to his persecution and shackled return to his native England.
Bowne fought his way back to his Queens home, where some say he remains, a spectral image sending shivers up the spines of even nonbelievers.
Flushing Town Hall
Legend has it that an impresario of the Flushing Opera House (at the Flushing Town Hall) who, after having been called off to fight in the War Between the States, vowed to return to the hall when the war was won.
The impresario was killed in the war, never making it back to his beloved stage. Or did he?
Over the years, tales of spectral sightings and odd occurrences at the hall have led people to believe that the impresario did come home. Visitors, passersby and construction workers have reported strange sounds and music drifting eerily from the old ballroom.
Most of the ghostly antics are linked to music, a sign believed to indicate that the impresario has returned to his stage.
During renovations at the Flushing Town Hall in the 1970s, construction crews refused to stay in the building alone after several said they saw a man dressed in the uniform of a Union soldier climbing a staircase leading to the old stage. Workers were also scared silly when a radio, left at one end of the ballroom, turned itself off while they were painting and plastering across the room.
The legend of these spectral sightings, penned on parchment by a Queens historian, hangs on a lobby wall at the entrance to the Flushing Town Hall.
When Harry Houdini died of a burst appendix on Halloween night, October 31, 1926, he left behind code words with friends and family, promising to use the words to contact them some Halloween night – if he found it was possible to communicate from the grave.
Each year, on Halloween night, believers gather at Harry’s Queens gravesite – waiting for him to send them a sign that he has returned.
There is a wonderful irony to reports of Harry’s spirit revisiting some of his old haunts. Houdini was staunchly committed to proving that the dead could not return in spectral form.
If anyone could be capable of freeing himself from the bonds of the grave, wouldn’t it make sense that it would be accomplished by the greatest escape artist that ever lived?
All Hallow’s Events
Cobwebs hang eerily across Queens during this boo-tiful Halloween season when fun lies around every corner.
The following is a list of haunted happenings, fall festivals and events compiled by the Gazette for your enjoyment of this ghostly season:
Harvest festivities have begun at the
Queens Farm Museum, where the Amazing Maize Maze is open through October 30. The three-acre, interactive adventure sponsored by Con Edison, is all about “the fun of getting lost and loving it”, a Farm Museum spokesperson said.
Admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children four-to-11 and children under three are admitted free. The Amazing Maize Maze is open at 11 a.m. and the last ticket is sold at 4:30 p.m.
The farm has once again opened its fields to pumpkin pickers. You can pick pumpkins from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the pumpkin patch is free and the price of the pumpkins you pick is determined by size.
The Farm Museum is located at 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy. in Floral Park. For more information call 718-347-FARM or visit www.queensfarm.com.
Kids and adults are invited to the annual Boo At The Zoo hosted by the Queens Zoo at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, located at 53-51 111th St. in Corona.
Free, with regular Zoo admission.
Join in the costume party and face painting and visit the Extinct Species Spooky Graveyard. Stand back as the Bears and Pumas tear into Halloween treat-filled pumpkins.
For information on dates and times call 1-718-271-1500 or visit the Zoo Web site at www.queenszoo.com.
Adults and children are invited to
Maple Grove’s Great Halloween Festival & Carved Pumpkin Contest on October 29, from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Maple Grove Cemetery, 83-15 Kew Gardens Rd.
The festival kicks off at 2 p.m. with the strange and unusual Touch of the Paranormal Walking Tour, not for those under 12.
A Children’s Costume Party kicks off at 3:45 p.m. and at 4 p.m. there will be storytelling, face painting, crafts and a carved pumpkin contest.
Those wishing to participate in the Carved Pumpkin Contest should bring their pre-carved pumpkins, with a candle inside. Pumpkin drop-off is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and viewing is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Prizes will be awarded after judging.
A $5 suggested donation is suggested. Children under 12 enter free.
For more information, call 917-681-3358.
Halloween Harvest Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park
Join the folks at the Socrates Sculpture Park on October 22, for their Halloween Harvest Festival, featuring live music, workshops, a canine costume contest – and much, much more.
Bring clean, used Halloween costumes, accessories and fun clothing to the festival’s GrowNYC Costume Swap and exchange them for something more gruesome.
Trade items limited to clothing, costumes and accessories only, please.
The Halloween Harvest Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 22 at the Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Boulevard and Broadway in Astoria.
For more information on the Halloween Harvest Festival, call 212-788-7954 or visit www.grownyc.org/recycle.
Haunted House (For the Kids) at Flushing Halloween Festival:
Mark your calendar with a big Boo! for the October 30th Halloween Festival sponsored by Garden Works, Knights Of Columbus #569 and the 109th Precinct Community Council.
The festival is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 30th at Bowne Park, 157th Street and 32nd Avenue in Flushing.
The spooky spectacular features a Haunted House, pony rides, a bouncy house, clowns, pumpkin painting, face painting, entertainment and much, much more.
Police at the 109th Precinct will also be on hand at the festival to offer Crime Prevention Tips and Safety Information related to the holiday.
For more information, you can email email@example.com.
Join us on All Hallows Eve for the most spooktacular event in Western Queens – the 17th annual Jackson Heights Halloween Parade.
The parade kicks off at 5 p.m. on October 31 at 37th Avenue and 89th Street in Jackson Heights.
The second-largest Halloween parade in New York City features neighborhood ghouls and boos in costume, along with a sprinkling of grownups in over-the-top costumes of their own and neighborhood school marching bands parading down to 77th Street. All the participating children will receive giant trick-or-treat bags at the end of the parade.
For information on the parade, which is sponsored by the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, visit www.jhbg.com.