By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS HOLLOW — Zombies, ghosts and ghouls took over Joralemon Park this weekend — and the community turned out by the hundreds.
Horror in the Hollow, hosted by the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Corporation, returned Saturday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The annual fundraiser event, held around Halloween, was in its eighth year following the two-year hiatus. Visitors looking for a frightfully fun evening boarded a hayride for an eerie trip through the “haunted” woods.
Elisha Van Kampen, originally of Coeymans Hollow but now living in Berne, came to Horror in the Hollow for the first time, and brought some eager young guests with her.
“This is my first year. I am babysitting for a local family, so I brought them out for this,” Van Kampen said. “We are waiting anxiously to get on the hayride. The kids were very excited all day.”
In previous years, the hayride brought out more than a thousand visitors. There were also refreshments, themed music, a bounce house and plenty of fun to be had.
“The community loves this, they absolutely love it,” said event organizer Michelle Kapusta from the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Corporation. “Everyone is excited about it — there’s been nonstop talk ever since we announced we were doing it again. But we couldn’t do it without all the people who help — there are so many companies that donated.”
This was the first year the fire company pre-sold tickets online, as well as on site, and Kapusta said it was a hit.
“It was a huge success so that is a definite moving forward,” Kapusta said.
Mark Patterson, of Selkirk, brought his two kids to the event, and they couldn’t wait to get on the hayride when it was their turn.
“This is their first time here,” Patterson said. “We are looking forward to the hayride. We were surprised it was so close to us. We didn’t know about it before this year. They are very excited.”
Billy Patterson, 7, and Lucy Patterson, 5, both said they were excited — and they weren’t scared a bit.
Kapusta said in a recent year Horror in the Hollow drew 1,100 visitors. This year organizers had already pre-sold 600 tickets online, and on the day of the event there was a long line of visitors waiting to buy tickets onsite as soon as things got underway.
None of it would be possible without assistance from other fire companies, businesses and volunteers, she added.
“[I feel] an enormous amount of gratitude to everyone that is helping,” Kapusta said. “It is truly a community event and I can’t thank everybody enough.”
Judy Burton, chairwoman of the fire district’s board of commissioners, volunteered to help out at the event.
“It’s great to do things for our community — giving back and raising money at the same time,” Burton said. “It helps the firehouse and keeps taxpayer money down.”
Auxiliary president Mary Ann Dennis said the event is a favorite for many community members. While she helped sell raffle tickets, her husband, Jack Dennis, was busy spooking hayriders in the woods.
“My husband loves to haunt so he is in the woods haunting right now,” Dennis said. “It’s a great fundraiser for the company and everybody loves it.”
There were many donors and contributions, from services like the DJ to raffle baskets to refreshments. A complete list of donors was not available at press time and will be included in next week’s column penned by the Coeymans Hollow Volunteer Fire Corporation, but some donors and participants included several fire departments — among them New Baltimore, Coeymans, Ravena and Slingerlands — who helped with the haunting; Trinity United Methodist Church held a bake sale; music was provided by K2 Entertainment; and the Coeymans Comeback Team donated the donuts and cider.
The Albany County Sheriff’s Office had its K-9 unit onsite. Raffles were donated by Thiele Carting, Sandy Beck, Breezy Hill Stables, Eck’s Farm and Radley Enterprises.
Assistance and donations were also provided by Coeymans Police, the Albany County Fire Coordinator’s Office, Ravena Shop ‘N’ Save, Collins & Sons, Track 32, Trackside Pizza, Mueller’s Automotive, Brady’s K-9 Saviors, Thomas Marra Photography, Rob VanEtten, Lukens Horse Transportation, Coeymans Highway Department, Jumping Bean Party Rental, Modern Press and Farmer Jon’s Farm Market.
Any raffle tickets that did not sell Saturday will be sold at the firehouse, Kapusta said.
Here are more photos of this weekend’s Horror in the Hollow Hayride.