in my humble opinion

Who was that masked man?

By Jonathan Charles Fox
Posted 11/4/20

It snowed the day before Halloween and it’s snowing now. Not a lot, of course, but the light dusting serves as a reminder of things to come: snow, ice and bitter cold await. How much of each …

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in my humble opinion

Who was that masked man?

Posted

It snowed the day before Halloween and it’s snowing now. Not a lot, of course, but the light dusting serves as a reminder of things to come: snow, ice and bitter cold await. How much of each remains to be seen, but fair warning—winter is on its way. I’m not complaining (yet), just making conversation. 

But, before all that: Halloween, my favorite holiday. As a child, it was all about the candy. By the time I was eight, my pals and I were into the costumes, too, and as an adolescent teen, mischief-making was at the top of the list. Now that I’m all grown up, it’s about photographing the children, kids and teens enjoying all three. Here in the country, we move at a slower pace, and I’ve always appreciated the fact that our Halloween celebrations reflect my own childhood and what I perceive as a simpler time when bobbing for apples was actually a thing and haunted hayrides, led by horses and not tractors, reined [sic] supreme. 

“Well, at least a frightening endless sea of masks will make sense for one day,” I rasped at the dog while rifling through her wardrobe, hunting for a doggy costume. Unsure how things would “go bump in the night” this year, I turned to social media for some answers, thankful to discover that folks in the Upper Delaware River region were (IMHO) coming up with creative solutions to help kids enjoy Halloween in the time of COVID-19. 

“Hello, Smallwood community!” I read online. “The newly elected Smallwood Civic Association (SCA) Board is pleased to announce [its] first event: a COVID-safe Children’s Halloween Trick-or-Treat Walk on Saturday, October 31 at 3 p.m.” Hosted by Mary Scofield and the SCA, the concept was simple but required a lot of pre-planning, pre-registration and more than a few helping hands from members of the community. “This event is open to all in the Bethel area,” the announcement explained, “and [in order to] provide a headcount to those preparing trick-or-treat bags, please RSVP, whether you are trick-or-treating or setting up a table.”

Local businesses and residents had signed on to host lakeside trick or treat spreads for the kids, all of whom were required to be accompanied by an adult, and the treats were laid out so that minimal contact would be required. With the assistance of a “generous donation” from Malek Properties, a local real estate company, board co-chairs Jose Nunez and Jonathan Hyman worked overtime to ensure that the event would run smoothly.

Bethel Town Supervisor Daniel Sturm took to social media that morning. “Getting set up for the trick-or-treaters,” he posted online. “And it’s a beautiful day here on the lake. Thank you SCA for creating this event. Thank you also to Bethel highway superintendent Robbie Bonnaci and the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department for blocking off roads.” Sturm also expressed gratitude to the Bethel constables “for keeping everyone safe. We’re excited to see everyone in their costumes!” he enthused. And off I went, dog in tow, her costume unintentionally left behind.

Hyman gave me a lift up the hill and dropped me off mid-route, providing a perfect vantage point from which to snap photos of the costumed children—and the cavalcade began. Some kids recognized the dog and a few adults addressed me by name, but each time that happened, I muttered, “Who was that masked man?” I wondered as the dads (and moms) strolled past, unsure if they were new to the neighborhood or possibly an old friend, disguised not only by their outfits but by the required masks that every single man, woman and child wore in cooperation with the safety protocols set forth by the event staff. I appreciated that most of the adults wore costumes, too, which added to the merriment and created a sense of normalcy that eludes us most days. 

Disney princesses, gladiators, zombies and more than a few dinosaurs passed by, along with several Spidermen, a couple of witches and a wild assortment of bewigged adults, pushing strollers, holding hands, or allowing the kids to walk ahead, gleefully snatching up treats along the way. The event drew many, released in small groups and distanced appropriately, under the watchful eye of SCA volunteers.

 “This was a wonderful and much-needed event,” Hyman told me after the fact. “More families with children are in Smallwood because we are all living, working and attending school differently now. Many people arrived here in March and quite a few have never returned to the New York City area. The weather was perfect for a walk around the lake,” he continued, “and it was made even more special because everyone cooperated with our COVID-19 protocols.” I enthused about the kids, the costumes and the overall success of the event in response. “On behalf of the SCA and our general membership, I offer a sincere thank you to events committee co-chair Jose Nunez, our volunteers, and our treat-table hosts. This event could not have been so smoothly executed without the support of Supervisor Dan Sturm, our Bethel Constables and the Smallwood/Mongaup Valley Fire Department,” he said, echoing Sturm’s words earlier in the day. 

I had a blast photographing the kids, happy to have gotten out and about. “Just like the old days,” I said to the dog. “Maybe we should wear costumes every day, to go with the masks.”

To see more photos, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and visit www.riverreporter.com. If you know who is behind the disguise, feel free to drop a comment. As for me—no clue. Who was that masked man?

Fun fact: The expression “things that go bump in the night” refers to ghosts or other supernatural beings that are believed to be the source of frightening, unexplainable noises heard at night (that often sound like something being struck or bumped).

The expression “Who was that masked man?” is attributed to The Lone Ranger, a fictional masked former Texas Ranger who fought outlaws in the American Old West with his Native American friend, Tonto. 

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