There’s a crisp chill in the air and not just because the weather is finally seasonally appropriate. It’s the time of year I low-key dread every year: Halloween season. I do not enjoy being scared, to put it mildly. Why would anyone? But in true “my life is a nightmare” nature, my girlfriend loves all things scary. I love her. And because love makes you do foolish—or, in this case, frightening—things, I found myself waiting at a B62 bus stop in Williamsburg one recent dark, cold night.
Public transportation is terrifying. But our ride for the night? A tricked-out trolley, which rolled ominously up to the stop, complete with mini chandeliers, a flat-screen TV, a smoke machine, a caldron of candy that came into play during trivia, a licensed driver (allegedly named Ichabod), and a veiled tour guide (allegedly named Celine).
We had booked a Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tour with a married couple we met at a party last month, when we learned that they were also a pair of “one loves this” and “one hates this” lovebirds. But guess what? None of us hated this experience. I didn’t dislike it even a little bit! Probably because, full disclosure, I tried to schedule our scares in an ascending order for the month; as this was our first Halloween-themed event, there was little chance that I’d puke out of fear. My girlfriend loved it even more—probably because, full disclosure, she won a piece of candy by shouting “Poltergeist” before Celine could even finish asking the first trivia question.
Madame Morbid’s was a perfect grab bag of informative and entertaining as we navigated the streets of Brooklyn I usually try to avoid. Without giving too much of the tour away, we learned:
- The underside of the trolley door is painted faint blue because of a Souther superstition that the color wards off evil spirits.
- The Brooklyn Theater fire of 1876 was so bad that nearly 300 bodies essentially melted together and were moved to a mass grave at Green-Wood Cemetery.
- The Gowanus Canal has, historically, always been disgusting.
- The Brooklyn Museum can’t ever lend its collection of mummies to museums in other states because the mummified bodies don’t have death certificates.
In fact, if you really hate Halloween, you can simply pretend that the driver is not really wearing an “Ichabod” name tag and that the trolley ride is really just a historical Brooklyn tour…of very creepy things.
So what’s next on my to-boo list? Nothing is more terrifying to me than spontaneity, so I researched all the options—there are many!—to find the spooky spots and events that my girlfriend would dig and I wouldn’t despise. Here’s what I found:
Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow (only an hour and 15 minutes away on public transportation) goes full haunted house all October in an old-school, non-fake-blood-everywhere kind of way. Day trip!
The folks behind Horseman’s Hollow are also screening an original scary film, The Unsilent Picture, starring Bill Irwin and scored IRL by musicians and a Foley artist, on the manor property.
Manhattan’s oldest house is scary and…scarily close to my apartment in Harlem. Even scarier: On October 31, there will be a paranormal investigation during which we will learn the basics of ghost hunting after closing hours.