East Hills cancels Spooktacular, holds off Mackay Estate restoration bid

East Hills cancels Spooktacular, holds off Mackay Estate restoration bid
East Hills Village Hall. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Village of East Hills has opted to cancel its annual Spooktacular event, after rain and the impact of the Israel-Hamas war on residents forced the event to be pushed out to the spring.

Spooktacular is an annual event in the village, bringing Halloween-themed activities to the park for children adorned in costumes to enjoy. Activities include hay rides, a petting zoo, a DJ dance party and bounce houses.

The village initially planned to host its annual Spooktacular on Oct. 14, but rain on the day of the event led to it being rescheduled.

The board of trustees debated at its meeting Wednesday night on when to reschedule the event, considering Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 – Veterans Day.

Trustee Stacey Siegel advocated hosting the event on Nov. 4 as that was the rain date shared with event sponsors, is closest to Halloween and will likely be warmer. She said she had also spoken with committee members and did not want to keep changing the plans.

“It’s sort of taxing every time we have to reschedule, now we’re extending it even further,” Siegel said. “It’s almost like I just want to do it. Get it done, have a great event, hopefully, while we can even with everything else going on in the world. This is kind of a way to give everybody a break from that.”

Mayor Michael Koblenz suggested holding it on Veterans Day since it is a federal holiday and will bring a different theme to the event. The concern from many board members was shifting away from the event’s notable Halloween theme.

The board weighed the pluses and minuses of each date, ultimately choosing to go forward with the Nov. 11 date for the event.

But two days after the board’s decision, the Kids in the Park Committee, which plans the event, announced that they would be cancelling Spooktacular.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the committee said Spooktacular would be rescheduled in the spring. The post cited the weather and current events diminishing morale.

All pre-sale tickets will be honored in the spring, the post states. Details on the rescheduled event will be announced at a later date.

Weighing over board members were the current events in Israel. Trustee Clara Pomerantz said giving more time until the event date may allow for better planning when committee members are not stressed about the current crisis and for better news to occur in the meantime.

Koblenz said the village has had additional police patrolling as well as boosting security at the park 24/7 in response to the war.

“Everybody is on high alert because of what’s going on,” Koblenz said.

In other business, the board also considered the village advertising a bid for new windows and doors for the Mackay Estate Gate Lodge, a historic site from the Gilded Age, but opted to hold off until grants or additional money comes in to fund the projects.

The gate was the entrance to the 512-acre Harbor Hill Estate, built from 1900-1902 for Clarence Mackay. The estate was designed around 1899 by Stanford White’s firm of McKim, Mead & White. He was a prestigious architect in America in the late 19th and early 20th century who designed Madison Square Garden and the Marble Arch in Washington Square.

The landmark society’s goal is to restore the gate to what it originally looked like in the early 1900s and make it the East Hills History Resource Center.

The Village of East Hills Board of Trustees will convene again for its next meeting on Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the village hall.

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