By Gail Lamberta, Ph.D., associate dean for community development and chairperson of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at SJC.
When I was asked to select my favorite Halloween tourist attractions on Long Island, I thought it was impossible! Yes, impossible! There are so many seasonal favorites on Long Island and sort of like hot sauce (mild, medium and hot), there are different options, some for the meek and some for the more daring. Although it was quite a challenge, here are some places that you should check out this Halloween season:
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center was established in 1885. After World War II, Kings Park was home to 9,303 patients. At this time, invasive techniques of pre-frontal lobotomies and electro-shock therapy were popular until medication made it possible for patients to live normal lives outside of a mental institution. In the 1970s, activists worked in legal suits to reduce the patient population in major institutions, arguing that people could better be supported in smaller community centers. By 1996, the Center was officially closed. Today, the sprawling area that once housed the Kings Park Psychiatric Center stands as a testament to a forgotten era, and legend has it, this is a very haunted area on Long Island, frequently visited by enthusiasts of the paranormal, amateur writers and photographer hobbyists. If you’re feeling daring, go see for yourself!
Mount Misery Road is located in West Hills and starts at the intersection of Broad Hollow Road and Sweet Hollow Road and ends at about Jericho Turnpike. Settled in the 1600s, this area boasts a great deal of American history and some very impressive paranormal history. A simple Google search will give you an incredible number of hits concerning Mount Misery, most of which lead to the same or very similar stories. If these stories pique your interest, you must be a real fan of Halloween and all things spooky! This stop is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The legend that surrounds Lake Ronkonkoma dates back to the colonial era when a Native American woman took her own life in the lake. The Lady of the Lake (as she is now known) strikes at least once per year when a male between the ages of 18 and 38 disappears in the lake. Some men who have survived the Lady of the Lake claim that when they went swimming beyond the boundaries of the designated swim area, they felt cold fingers touch them. Are you tempted to throw on your bathing suit and find out for yourself yet? Wow, you are brave!
Here, there is something for everyone. You can check out the Bloodworth Haunted Mansion, Uncle Needle’s Funhouse of Fear in 3D, The Temple of Terror, Curse of the Zombie Pirates and Evil in the Woods. There are also a lot of activities for kids on their not-so-scary days, including a treasure hunt, bumper boats, Halloween crafts and storytelling, and a Halloween train ride, to name a few.
Every year, the Gateway Playhouse transforms their theater into a place of horror. Since it’s a professional theater, yes, you will get the professional theatrics. Animatronics will surely make you feel like you are one with the ghosts and gruesome creatures. Then add the actors to the howling noises and you, too, will be screaming in fear. They also have a Not-So-Scary Kids’ Adventure that includes a guided haunted house tour, pumpkin bouncer, face painting and balloon creations.
This has become a destination for locals and visitors from afar. Adults can celebrate Halloween in grand fashion at the Aquarium’s Masquerade Ball that takes place in the elegant Sea Star Ballroom while the kids enjoy the Bats, Barnacles and Broomsticks Halloween Party that features safe trick-or-treating and the Pirate’s Nightmare Haunted House. In addition, they have a costume parade for their penguins, face painting, puppet show and crafts.
This a great place to visit any time of the year, but especially during the Halloween season. The farm is more than a pumpkin patch; they also offer a magical comedy show, canine cabaret, a barnyard game show, hayride sing-a-longs, exotic bird shows and a performing horse show. Don’t forget to try their roasted corn, candy apples and fresh funnel cake while you’re there.
This one has all kinds of fun things for the kids (and some adults like me). Check out the awesome activities like their haunted tunnel, Octobercation trail, balloon bounce and scarecrow making. While you’re there, enjoy a few snacks and don’t forget to have a piece of roasted corn, which is a favorite of mine.
Well, whatever you choose to do, be safe, have fun and “howl a creepy time!”