By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
After last year’s low-key pandemic Halloween, Montclair is back to celebrating with well-loved traditions.
Although Gov. Phil Murphy declared last year that Halloween could take place at the discretion of each municipality, many towns such as neighboring Glen Ridge canceled the holiday. Montclair did not, but it was a tuned-down version, with many events being canceled and trick-or-treaters staying close to home.
This year, favorite events such as pumpkins at Presby Gardens, the Montclair Police “Trunk-or-Treat” and cemetery tours are back.
Even “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is returning for the holiday. Here’s a list of local Halloween happenings.
Gardens aglow, pups on parade
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Area high school students have been invited to showcase their creativity and carve pumpkins for the Presby Gardens’ “Gardens Aglow” on Friday, Oct. 29. From 6 to 9 p.m., all jack-o’-lanterns will be lit with candles and lined around the flower beds to help illuminate the gardens. Seasonal refreshments will be available.
“I invite you to visit the gardens and this unique and colorful jack-o’-lantern display. Then, enjoy a glass of cider at sunset while watching the gardens glow,” county Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said.
The event, at 474 Upper Mountain Ave., is free.
Dog owners and their pups are invited to display their creativity and participate in “Strut Your Mutt,” Essex County’s annual canine Halloween costume parade and contest. In Montclair, the parade and contest will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, at 9 a.m. at the Essex County Brookdale Dog Park on Grove Street.
“The Essex County dog parks have become popular places for dog owners to bring their faithful companions. In turn, the canine costume parades are growing into a favorite Halloween celebration for everyone to enjoy. Whether you own a dog or not, we invite you to come see creative costumes worn by dogs of all breeds,” DiVincenzo said.
Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places in a variety of categories.
Cemetery tours, pumpkin labyrinth, scarecrows
The Montclair History Center will offer two cemetery tours — virtual and in-person. On Thursday, Oct. 21, a virtual tour of the 30-acre Mt. Hebron Cemetery will be offered via Zoom at noon and 7 p.m. It is the final resting spot of notable residents of Speertown and Cranetown. The virtual tour will be led by Lisanne Renner, historian for the Friends of Anderson Park, and Helen Fallon, a trustee of the Montclair History Center. The tour is free and can be accessed by visiting montclairhistorycenter.org.
On Sunday, Oct. 31, the History Center invites guests to take a tour of Rosedale Cemetery, founded over 175 years ago. On the tour, which takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., guests will venture into the old section for a guided tour with Executive Director Jane Eliasof and collections manager Erin Benz.
They will discuss gravestone imagery as well as the people who are buried there. After a brief introduction at Rosedale Chapel, guests will head in cars to the old section of the cemetery for a 2-mile walking tour. The cost is $10, and masks are required. Visit montclairhistorycenter.org for more information.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 73 South Fullerton Ave. is hosting a pumpkin labyrinth through Oct. 31. All are welcome for prayer, play and photos, Christine M. Corso, parish administrator, said. The labyrinth is free.
St. Luke’s pumpkin patch is also still open, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donations support the members of the Navajo Nation who cultivate, harvest and ship the pumpkins, as well as church youth programs.
“It’s the most sincere pumpkin patch around,” Corso said, an apparent reference to “Peanuts” character Linus, who described his pumpkin patch that way.
Visitors may pay via QR code, Zelle, Venmo, text or cash.
From now through Sunday, Oct. 24, “Scarecrows in the Gardens” will be on display at Van Vleck House & Gardens. The 30-plus handcrafted scarecrows were created by Scout troops, nonprofits, local businesses, families, classes and individuals.
In this friendly competition, visitors are asked to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow in each category at vanvleck.org. The winners will receive $500 to donate to the nonprofit of their choice.
‘Rocky Horror,’ scary movie marathon
The 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” returns to Montclair on Mischief Night after a four-year hiatus. “Rocky Horror” fans will once again be able to don their fishnet stockings and high heels to do the “Time Warp.” The show will also welcome the cast of The Ordinary Kids, a live performing troupe made up of diehard fans.
The “strange journey” will happen at the Clairidge Cinemas as part of the Montclair Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 9 p.m.
Tickets for the performance are available at montclairfilm.org.
For those who want to hunker down on Halloween, Montclair channel 34 will be airing some of the most popular — and scariest — horror classic movies. Check montclairnjusa.org for the schedule.
‘Silent Disco to Save Montclair Local’
Montclair Local Nonprofit News and the Weirdo Party are presenting “The Halloween Silent Disco to Save Montclair Local.” The event will be at Glenfield Park (enter on Maple Avenue) on Halloween night, Oct. 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. It’s $25 for an individual or $50 for a family of up to four, for headphones you’ll use to listen to music all night long. Costumes aren’t required, but are welcome.
Payments can be sent via Cash App $jsharif2329, via Venmo to PopupNDance or by using the form at MontclairLocal.news, under “Montclair Local Events.”
Montclair Local is seeking vendors for the event. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in taking part. All proceeds go to Montclair Local Nonprofit News. For more information, see MontclairLocal.news or the expanded article on Page 2 of this week’s paper.
The third annual “Halloween Skate Session” at the Rand Courts Skate Park will take place on Sunday, Oct. 31, through the combined efforts of Skate Essex and the Montclair High School Skate Club, as well as Shred.Co, Unofficial and Boardroom Skate. Free skate lessons and mini contests for new and younger skaters will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, with a skate jam and contests for more experienced skaters starting at 1. All skaters are encouraged to come in costume to compete for best costume of the day.
Trick-or-treat, scary houses
The Montclair Police Department’s fourth annual “Trunk-or-Treat” Halloween celebration will take place Friday, Oct. 29, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the MPD rear parking lot, 647 Bloomfield Ave.
The Montclair Center BID will also be welcoming trick-or-treaters on Sunday, Oct. 31. Dozens of businesses will participate, and will have a “Halloween Stop” poster in their store windows.
After trick-or-treating, parents can capture the moment with photographer Michael Stahl, who in conjunction with The Commonwealth Club of Montclair will be creating Halloween portraits of costumed kids on Oct. 31.
Parents will be able to pay for the session by bringing a full bag of non-perishable groceries that will be donated to Toni’s Kitchen and the Human Needs Food Pantry.
“We are hoping that people are particularly generous this year,” Stahl, who donates his time annually, said.
The sessions will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. on a first-come basis at The Commonwealth Club, 26 Northview Ave.
All children must be accompanied by an adult. The images will be distributed on Facebook after the event. A model release, signed by an adult, is required.
Montclair resident Ajelica Tanti will once again run a Halloween House Decorating Contest. Residents with spooky houses are encouraged to enter by following @angelicatantimtg on Instagram and post photos with #NIGHTMAREINMONTCLAIR2021 and tag @angelicatantimtg. Photos can also be texted to 201-452-4825. The deadline to enter is Friday, Oct. 29, with winners announced Oct. 30. Winners will receive gift cards to Faubourg, Halcyon or Samba.