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Nyack Sketch Log: 4th Best Fright-Fest in U.S.

by Bill Batson
Nyack’s October 28th parade will be the 4th best fright-fest in the U.S. according to How does a community climb to the top of spook mountain?
Three terrifyingly terrific local traditions come to mind. For 30 years, The Nyack Chamber of Commerce has organized a Halloween Parade with float and costume contests that rivals the legendary Greenwich Village procession in creativity, if not crowd size. For 50 years, downtown store fronts are transformed into creepy canvases to shock the unwitting shoppers by high school artists. And on H-day,  North Broadway attracts thousands of costume-clad candy seekers, who spill into the streets. Win and Betty Perry have been faithfully dispensing tricks and treats from their decorated home in Upper Nyack since the early 1960s, giving backbone to our growing Halloween supremacy that can now be called a bragging right.

oldest surviving Perry home decoration notes

As president of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, you might expect that Perry has an annotated file recording each petrifying permutation of his home. As an architect, you can imagine that building a giant pyramid, or Rubik’s cube, replica of the “tee-zee” bridge or a Lenape Long House would be well within his wheel house. With his wife Betty, also a trustee of the Historical Society, as co-conspirator, the Perry’s have delighted generations of children seeking sugar and surprise on the last night of October.  Here’s some of the secrets to their scary success.
Is your house haunted?
How long has Win’s family been in the region?
Since 1676.  I’m a descendant of Harmanus Tallman.
Tell me a little about the first Perry?
Uriah Perry was my first Perry ancestor to come to America, about 1750.  Oral tradition says he was a hotel keeper at Slaughter’s Landing (now Rockland Lake Landing).  I found a deed showing his sale of a piece of land there. He was too old for the army during the Revolution so he served in the Shore Guard militia. He died at age 106 or 108.

30th Annual Halloween Parade

The 30th Annual Halloween Parade, organized by the Nyack Chamber of Commerce, will be held  on Saturday, October 28, 2017 – the fourth best fright-fest in America according to
Festivities start at 2:00pm at the Main Street Municipal Parking Lot where kids get the fun of going on the first annual Trick-or-Treat Trail.
The Nyack Halloween Parade registration starts in Memorial Park at 3:00p and the parade kicks off at 5:30p.
Celebrating its 30th year of creative costume pageantry, the Nyack Halloween Parade features dancing ghouls, marching bands, roller derby, wild costumes, crazy floats, fire trucks, motorcycles and classic cars, live entertainment, and over $2,000 in cash prizes!

The Nyack Halloween Parade proceeds down Piermont Avenue taking a right on Cedar Hill, a right onto Broadway, a left onto Main Street and a left onto Franklin, turning into the Main Street Municipal Parking Lot where costume contest contestants await the results from our judges.Costumed students from Bach to Rock will perform as the run-up to the prize awards.
Thanks to our sponsors Guinness & Oak Beverages, 5 Wits and Autobahn Indoor Speedway.
Our rain date is October 29th.
To learn more visit

Where are Betty’s family from?
She was born in Oklahoma, lived in San Francisco as a small child, went to school and college in Berkeley.
How did you meet?
We both lived in student co-op houses at UC Berkeley. We met at a party at Ridge House where I lived.
Who’s idea was it to decorate the house?
I don’t remember. We both have always been enthusiastic about it and our four children egged us on.
Have the neighbors along North Broadway always had such elaborate home decorations?
No. There have always been Halloween decorations, but usually less elaborate than ours.
How many years have you been decorated?
We started in the early 1960s, maybe about 1963, but we have only kept a record since 1968. This year’s will be the 50th on our list.
What was your favorite decoration to date?
I have loved them all.  How can you choose one child above the others?  I particularly remember the Great Pumpkin, which we did 4 times, the Maze (before we had shrubbery), the Lenape Longhouse called “Nyack in 1491” that we did in 1992, and Kids Vote that we did in the year of Barak Obama’s election and repeated 8 years later.
What was the most complicated?
Perhaps 2006 when we had a princess kissing a frog and a realistic image of Derek Jeter sprang up.
How much time does it take?
8 to 16 hours most years.
How many trick-or-treaters do you get?
For years it was about 200, then it began increasing every year and the last two years we have had over 1000.  That’s really too many.  Please publish the wrong address so some of them will go elsewhere.
Do you get cramps from handing out so much candy at 319 North Broadway?
Yes.  And it hurts the pocket book.  We get really cheap candy. You can print that!
Do you have adults return who were here trick-or-treating as children?
Yes.  Even some grandparents.
Do you still help maintain the old cemetery of Old Mountain Road?
That’s a project of the Historical Society led by Florence Katzenstein that Betty andI participate in.  It’s usually just once a year.
Seen any Spooks in the Hallow?
Is that a pun?  All Hallows Eve or Spooky Hollow?  Spooky Hollow in Upper Nyack commemorates the story of Camboan who was famed for finding lost children in the swamp that existed before Spooky Hollow Pond was dammed. His ghost lived on in the area.  No, I have never seen him.  The same story exists in South Nyack where Camboan is also claimed.
What are your decorations this year?
A sailboat leaning precariously over a huge wave and sailed by two skeletons.  Our neighbor says it reminds her of the Flying Dutchman
Any plans for future decorations?
No.  The ideas don’t usually come to us until close to Halloween.
What’s new at the Historical Society of the Nyacks
We have a collection of things from Nyack’s history, and were just given the actual sign that hung on the toll booth of the Nyack Turnpike (predecessor of Route 59) in Central Nyack in the mid-1800s. It gives the tolls to drive to Clarksville and beyond:  3 cents for a horse and rider, 4 cents for a wagon or buggy, 1 cent per score of sheep.  How things have changed!
An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “4th Best Fright-fest in U.S.”  © 2017 Bill Batson. Visit to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.

Nyack Farmer's Market

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