NISKAYUNA — With the coronavirus pandemic, many have been looking for alternative ways to celebrate the spooky and scary this Halloween season.
That includes Niskayuna resident Susan Barczak, who is known around her neighborhood for creating elaborate Halloween displays. There are the welcoming witches, the snarling werewolves, the macabre skeletons and other characters all stretched out across her front lawn on Antonia Drive.
“When my kids were little, I made this huge witch mask [out of] paper mache. I wore that and then I said let me make that into a statue and it just blossomed. Every time there was a sale, I’d pick something up,” Barczak said.
This year, the display has gone up a little differently. Instead of having trick-or-treaters come to the door, they’ll go through a path on the lawn marked with ghouls and ghostly characters, ending with a treat-lined table. She’ll have a projection and a fog machine going, weather permitting, to add to the scene.
“Even though I love to answer the doorbell and see all their wonderful costumes, I will stay safe and so will they,” Barczak said.
She’s put the intricate displays up for nearly two decades and last Halloween alone more than 100 trick-or-treaters came by. Even in the days leading up to the holiday, people from around the neighborhood come by to take a look at it, however, with the safety and health concerns brought about by the pandemic, it’s unclear how many will be trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
“I’m thinking this is their opportunity. If they don’t go anywhere else they can at least come here,” Barczak said.
According to the New York State Department of Health’s Halloween guidelines, it’s recommended that candy be placed outside, as Barczak plans to do. Traditional trick-or-treating — where candy is handed out at the door and social distancing isn’t possible — is not recommended, according to the health department.
The guidelines recommend that people opt for alternative methods of celebrating the holiday, like drive-through trick-or-treating, as Mazzone Hospitality is doing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this weekend.
The Saratoga Spooktacular runs from 4-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Families can wear costumes and drive through SPAC’s grounds to collect individually wrapped candy from stations along the way. The event is also a benefit for SPAC and tickets are $6 per vehicle. There’s a cap of 500 cars per night. To register visit mazzonehospitality.com.
Mohawk Honda in Scotia is also featuring a Trunk or Treat event on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.
However, for those who are uncomfortable with trick or treating events, there are other options to celebrate.
There’s a Spooktacular Pumpkin Carving Meetup from 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Washington Park, hosted by Noteworthy Resources of Albany. Attendees should bring their own pumpkins, carving tools and light refreshments will be provided. Tickets are $5 and registration is required (nwralbany.org).
Crossgates Mall is hosting a Pic or Treat Costume Contest through Halloween. People can visit the photo booth inside Apex Entertainment through Saturday to get their costumed photo taken or take a costumed photo at home and then submit it to Crossgates ([email protected]). Prizes will be awarded for the scariest, cutest and most original costume in each age group, including $50 gift cards and a ValleyCats’ prize pack.
There’s also plenty to do outdoors, including guided tours and nature walks. Here’s a look at some other Halloween events happening around the Capital Region:
— The Ellms Family Farm Pumpkin Glow and Light Show Drive-Thru continues in Ballston Spa. Featuring intricately carved pumpkins, the path takes viewers through a path on the farm after dark. The Glow runs Thursdays – Sundays through Nov. 7, with the first ticket time starting at 7 p.m. and the last at 9:40 p.m. Tickets start at $29.99. For more information visit ellmsfarms.com.
— A Jack-o-Lantern Trail Walk at Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville will run from 6-8 p.m. on Friday. Lit jack-o-lanterns will line the park’s Sensory Trail and younger attendees can enjoy two Story Walks during the evening. The public is invited to bring their pumpkins to help decorate the trail or to come early (between 4-6 p.m.) and carve one at the Hudson Crossing Park pavilion. All supplies will be provided and the cost is $10 per person. Costumes are encouraged. For more information visit hudsoncrossingpark.org.
— Grafton Lakes State Park has a Haunted Full Moon Hike slated for 6 p.m. Friday. Led by an environmental educator, attendees will be led through the park and learn about its history. The event is designed for ages 12 and up and people must register before 4 p.m. on Thursday by emailing [email protected]
For more information on the NYS Department of Health’s guide to Halloween visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov.