It seemed impossible that such a grand exhibition as Suffield’s Halloween Spooktacular could be produced in less than a month of planning. But there it was, and well over 1,000 cars loaded with awestruck kids came to enjoy the free event.
The word had been spread in posters, Town bulletins, social media, and the daily press, and on Wednesday, October 28, cars circled the Bruce Park roadway in a constant flow for the scheduled two hours, with their occupants Oooing and Wowing and sometimes shivering at the sounds they heard and the scenes they saw on both sides. It was quite dark at 6:00, of course, but the skeletons and ghosts and even a couple of Highway Department trucks were brightly lit, and the tableaus had just the amount of spooky light that they needed. Jack-O-Lanterns and colorful mums were everywhere.
A prominent welcome to the event was dramatically offered by Maleficent, Disney’s Mistress of Evil, whose amplified voice and grand gestures were reinforced by the wings of her frightening dragon alongside. (Many visitors didn’t recognize our most recognizable Town official, who played that role.)
Other scenes included Shakespeare’s famous “boil and bubble, toil and trouble” scene, whose smoking cauldron was tended by witches from The Suffield Players. Nearby, several town librarians tended a counter with skeletal companions in an Edwardian library setting. Set back a bit from the road was a conference of skeletons presided over by another witch.
The “hologram” images projected onto a number of scrim screens, or even on tobacco netting or a big semi-trailer, showed dancing skeletons, bats flying around haunted castles, and imaginative, ghostly scenes, all with appropriate music. And the inscriptions on the gravestones in a small cemetery warned “REST IN PIECES” and “ENTER IF YOU DARE.” Costumed fire fighters waved from high on their tower truck’s ladder. And there was much more to see. As cars departed, each was approached by a volunteer offering a large pumpkin; many were accepted.
Rain cancelled the second day, but on Friday, with the morning snow still covering the ground, the show was offered again, this time for three hours, and the turnout exceeded Wednesday’s.
The big event had been organized in a fast-moving effort with great help from town resident Frank Campiti, whose several businesses include such attractions. He knew where to obtain the many blow-up figures, had access to the “hologram” projectors and their crew, and provided experienced guidance in planning and setting it all up. Foreman Mark Cervione and the highway department, along with Bill Guzie and his landscaping crew, were vital to making it happen. There were many volunteers, as well.
The Spooktacular was intended to compensate kids who had been asked not to go out trick-or-treating. Asked to comment on the cost, First Selectman Melissa Mack explained that the pandemic shut-down had interfered with expenditures from the community outreach budgets of several departments, which could be diverted to the cost of the event. Finance Director Deborah Cerrato said the bills weren’t all in yet, but she expected the total cost will be a little over $20,000.
A solicitation from drivers as they left, to be given to Suffield Community Aid to help with their Christmas expenses, totaled almost $6,000.