Griswold to host first-ever 'Spooktopia' Halloween festival Oct. 26

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Sep. 30, 2013
Spooktopia is on Oct. 26 at Veterans Memorial Park in Jewett City. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

Spooktopia, a community-wide event to celebrate Halloween, is in the works for Saturday, Oct. 26, at Veterans Memorial Park in Jewett City. On the agenda will be “trunk or treating,” a costume contest, a haunted house, a jack-o-lantern display, vendors, a movie and entertainment.

“It’s going to be kind of like Youthtopia, but double the size,” said Griswold Recreation Director Ryan Aubin. “It should be one of the biggest events we’ve ever had in the town of Griswold."

Griswold Youth Center supervisor Ricky Bevis said that the event is a joint effort among local agencies, organizations and businesses. “The support for this has been phenomenal,” she said. “From the feedback we’ve gotten, if it holds true, we expect a lot of people. It’s just blown us away.”

The Taylor Hill Road park, decorated for the season, will open for the event at 3 p.m. From 7 to 8 p.m., youngsters age 13 and under will be able to “trunk or treat” – collect candy and other goodies from registered participants, tailgate-party style. “People have been requesting this for years,” said Aubin. “There’s really no safe place to go trick-or-treating in Jewett City.” At press time, the number of registered “trunkers” was between 40 and 50, but Aubin said he hoped to have at least 100 attend the event.

Families are also encouraged to bring a carved jack-o-lantern for the display, as well as non-perishable and canned foods for the St. Mary Food Pantry, which is suffering a shortage of food to offer its clients.

The pumpkin display is a nod to the late Edgar Fontaine, to whom the event is dedicated. For years, Fontaine set up a spectacular display of hand-carved jack-o-lanterns on the grounds of his quirky hilltop house on Norman Road, open free to the public. Bevis said that Fontaine typically brought his home-grown pumpkins to the Griswold senior and youth centers for a joint carving party, then set the finished carving up at his display, along the walls and roof of his house.

“It was a big thing for Halloween for everybody in town to drive up to Edgar’s place and look around at those wonderful carvings,” Bevis said. “We really want to honor him” with this event. She added that Fontaine’s son will be acknowledged at a ceremony during the day-long event.

Fontaine “really understood how important recreation is to the community,” said Aubin. He added that community leaders hope to make Spooktopia an annual event.

The A.A. Young Hose and Ladder Company will host a haunted firehouse during the day, along with a chili cook-off. Inflatable “bouncy tents” and Sumo “wrestling” suits will be available, along with a psychic, an ongoing cakewalk, hayrides, food and other goods from local vendors. Local PTOs will offer children’s activities throughout the day, and ongoing entertainment will be provided by Spittin’ Image, the youth lip-synch group from St. Mary Church; by magician and fire-eater Jason Pepitone; and by DJ Big Daddy. A costume contest will award prizes for 10 categories in both boys’ and girls’ divisions at 6:30 p.m., and at 8 p.m. a free movie will be screened. The event’s rain date is Oct. 27.

Bevis said that interested vendors may still apply to the event; a 10-foot by 10-foot space is free. Those who wish to distribute candy as “trunkers” or serve as sponsors should also pre-register by calling 860-213-1285.

For more information, contact the Griswold Youth Center at 860-376-7026 or visit


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