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Scattered clouds
35.6 °F
December 07, 2016
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The nightmare before Christmas

Tannis Kowalchuk was on hand to greet Pumpkin Fest visitors at the tenth annual party in Barryville, NY.

Bidding adieu to summer, I observed the last of the Canada geese taking off, like a bat out of hell, and acknowledged the onset of things that go bump in the night. Clueless as to the whereabouts of my spooky decorations, I am enjoying scouring the countryside for my neighbors’ efforts, who (IMHO) all deserve prizes themselves. On my way home from the festival, I screeched to a halt in North Branch, NY and knocked on Jennie Bauernfeind’s door, overwhelmed by the Halloween diorama that she and her husband create every year spanning their property. Bauernfeind happily gave me a tour while I captured the display on film, and then she cautioned me (and my excitement) by saying, “If you like the scary display, wait till you see what we do for Christmas!”

Still determined to bask in witches, cauldrons and ghosts, I assured her that I would return for their winter wonderland and I made my way home, admiring the corn stalks and scarecrows adorning barns and doorways across the region. Hitting the Internet, I swooned at the possibilities. “Hell-O-Roma” ( is already in full swing and, even though I’m a fraidy-cat, I’m planning to screw up some courage and visit. Determined to face my fear head on (with a nod to the horseman who rides like the wind), I noted that another graveyard awaits on the far side (, while Milford, PA ( prepares to scare with their traditional cemetery tours and an evening with Edgar Allan Poe.

Imagination in overdrive, I’m still trying to figure out what to wear and where to go, knowing that costume parties are in the works all around the Catskills. Attempting to out-do my “Where’s Waldo” success of a few years back (, I have a few ideas floating around my skull, but still I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. I’ve yet to learn ventriloquism, so the dog may or may not play a part in my presentation, although she will be spied in many locations this season judging a variety of canine costume contests that she’s been invited to.