North Tonawanda prepares for haunting of its harbor
By Lauren Zaepfel
The North Tonawanda and Tonawanda Youth, Recreation and Parks Departments and the cities' Gateway Committee are sponsoring the annual Haunted Harbor event, set to take place from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Gateway Harbor Park in North Tonawanda.
On this night, parents and their children are encouraged to dress in costume and trick-or-treat their way around the harbor, while stopping along the way at kid-friendly activity sites.
"We love to see the creativity of the parents and their children coming through in their different, unique costumes," Superintendent of the North Tonawanda Youth, Recreation and Parks Department Patricia Brosius said. "It doesn't matter if you have a 2-year-old or if you have a 15-year-old, there's something for them to do."
Some of this year's activities will include a monster parts station, a candy search and candy and toy giveaways.
"I think it's really a cool, safe way for kids to celebrate Halloween," said Alex Domaradzki, youth coordinator at the North Tonawanda Youth, Recreation and Parks Department. "It's great for the City of North Tonawanda; it draws people downtown that haven't been down to Gateway Park and that area, as well."
Domaradzki and his staff also will hand out bags with safety rules and tips for trick-or-treating in preparation for Halloween night.
Staff members won't be the only ones handing out loot. Area boaters also stock up on candy and dock along both the North Tonawanda and Tonawanda sides of the Erie Canal, awaiting the arrival of trick-or-treaters.
"The boaters are incredible," said Kelly Utzig, senior recreation leader at the Tonawanda Youth, Recreation and Parks Department. "They decorate their boats and they have candy, and it's just another cool way for the boaters to participate."
Utzig, with fellow staff members and a crew of volunteer students, is hosting a haunted house on the Tonawanda side of the harbor.
"The kids that set it up ... volunteer their time, and the amount of effort that goes into putting this haunted house up is pretty incredible," Utzig said.
The haunted house will be on the corner of Main and Young streets in Tonawanda, near the historic Homestead Bridge. Participants can walk over from North Tonawanda.
"It's become kind of tradition," Brosius said of the Haunted Harbor event. "A lot of people are coming back year after year and look forward to it. I think they feel like it's a safe place to go and celebrate, and it's kind of like the traditional Halloween we all remember as kids."