Nestled amongst a residential area in Old Bethpage lies a living history site, Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which brings to life Long Island’s past.
Unpaved pathways lead to the main attractions of the site of a Long Island farm village from the mid-19th century. There are about 80 buildings on the premise, with 13 of them being houses that are spread out on the 209 acres.
During the last two weekends of October, the village holds an annual event focused around Halloween. The event is known as an 1880 Long Island Halloween. It’s kid friendly and offers much more than spooky sites and sounds. The cost is around $10 a person.
Christine Scott, the costume coordinator for the village was walking around in a time period appropriate black dress, giving her the eerie appearance of being a witch to fit in with the event.
According to the Scott, “the museum itself was actually put together in the 1960′s as a living history site.” She said “the buildings are from all around what was considered Queens County in the 1880′s which was all of Nassau and Queens.” A few of the buildings are also from Suffolk County as well.
Many of the homes that are open for visitors to walk through have secret surprises around every corner, waiting to spook you. In one particular home, children were running up and down the stairs, warning people who were about to turn the corner that something up ahead was bound to scare to them.
The houses, which are decorated as if it were back in the 1880’s stay true to their historical nature at this time of year, except beware when you peer into the various rooms because there are bloody statues, witches, and skeletons lurking in the corners to add a little fun.
Scott, who was standing outside of one of the supposed haunted homes on the site had just finished up giving ghost tours and telling stories. She said she enjoys “being able to go around and inform people about stories you will hear about no other time of the year.” She continued “If you come back next week and say I hear this house is haunted, I’ll go ‘really, never heard that.’ We only talk about it Halloween time, just a little extra special thing.”
Besides hearing her ghoulish tales as she stands upon a platform that resembles what witches were hung on back in the day, Scott said there are many more activities and events going on that embrace the Halloween spirit.
“There’s musicians, story tellers, the headless horseman, and the Grimm reaper. You can go and stand yourself in a casket and take a picture of yourself acting like your dead, all sorts of fun stuff like that,” said Scott.
Bob Dawson, who also works at the village, participates as just a volunteer. Dawson stood in the graveyard, a body was lying next to a newly dug grave. As a volunteer, “we do whatever the village needs us to do, and we come here and work in the graveyard,” said Dawson.
The graveyard was one of many locations on the site that was offering a Halloween attraction. For Ariel Seligman, from Massachusetts, she enjoyed the cemetery. “I like creepy stuff some days and learning about how a grave was dug is kind of interesting.”
If seeing a fake body being thrown into a grave is a bit too scary, the 1880 Halloween event featured milder sites and activities. Children dressed as ghosts, witches, and other characters were welcomed to participate in the costume parade. Chris Foley, along with his wife and three children from Massapequa said they came “to get outside and see the Halloween special that was going” and their children absolutely loved being apart of the parade.
Probably the most popular attraction of the day was the Monster Hunt. When entering the main lobby, kids were handed sheets with the names of all the monsters hiding about. The objective was to find the monsters, get their signatures, and at the end of your visit, you could get a little surprise.
The combination of quaint buildings, actors in time period clothing, the smells of a real farm, hidden secrets, and family friendly fun, make Old Bethpage Village Restoration a great place to visit, especially in the fall and during the Halloween celebration.
“Right now the leaves are changing, the weather is gorgeous and just being able to spend time with your family is the best part. It’s a safe environment, and oh goodness gracious, you might actually learn something cool and historical,” said Christine Scott.