Halloween shenanigans: venture forth to a 'Ghostly Gala'


Halloween hijinks are everywhere. Families can partake of plenty to see and do as October winds down. Among the many choices, the annual Ghostly Gala at the Long Island Children’s Museum, on Oct. 21, is a popular spot for some not-so-spooky — but still Halloween-ish — fun.

It particularly appeals to younger families, of course. But everyone who participates — including moms, dads, grandparents — all get into the spirit of the moment.

As Maureen Mangan, the museum’s director of communications, put it, “It’s a ‘fang-tastic’ night filled with eerie surprises.”

Expect all of that — and more. One of the museum’s most popular events, going on 20 years, returns year after year.

“This is very much a tradition for our visitors,” Mangan says.

Trick-or-treating throughout the museum galleries and a “monster-led” dance party are all part of the fun.

“This is one of our anchor events,” Mangan says. “We want families to be able to celebrate, to be able to be silly and have fun in a friendly, safe environment. The kids are very comfortable, and fully enjoy every moment.”

As does museum staffers. Notice the many fascinating characters who approach guests? That the staff, dressed in their finest Halloween attire.

“The staff are as excited as our visitors to show off their costumes and share in the moment,” Mangan says.“They take great pride in their costumes. They get together and plan their costumes. You’ll see them as Disney princesses, Marvel characters, whatever is related to the cultural zeitgist, they’ll be a part of.”

That means you may even see some Barbies and Kens this year.

Young guests — and their adult companions — eagerly flaunt their costumes, too. As always, everyone is encouraged to come to the museum in their most creative and dazzling looks. And that they do.

“We see hundreds of families all dressed up,” Mangan says. “They’re excited to have an opportunity to wear their costumes more than once” on Halloween night.

First stop upon entering, visitors can decorate a goody bag for use later on as everyone wanders through the museum collecting their “treats.” Galleries feature activity stations where kids can make themed craft projects like a glimmering ghost, funny Frankenstein necklace, and a witchy wardrobe puppet. Also be prepared for some mysterious encounters as you enter the unknown in the “Outta This World Spooky Space,” where guests can explore an imaginary planet. 

Plus everyone enjoys showing off their dance moves on the Monster Mash Dance Floor.

“Families have a great time with this,” Mangan says. “There’s lots of chatter and compliments going back and forth between everyone.”

Over in the museum theater, Uncle Vlad’s Pumpkin Patch is a gathering spot for some spellbinding stories and songs. “Uncle Vlad,” (a 10-foot bat puppet) is joined by his nephew Chad, and fellow friendly creatures of the night — both the “invisible man” and “visible man,” the Wolfman and Great Aunt Margarine, a witch who lives next door — featuring puppet artists Kyle Mahoney, Sebastiano Ricci, Carrie Heffernan and Austin M. Costello.

Uncle Vlad needs help from his friends — and the audience — as everyone tries to figure out who stole this year’s candy.

“Get your costume on,” Mangan says, “and be ready for plenty of fun.”