On a chilly fall night, as you drive up 9W, you may pass a frightening scene on the grounds of Cedar Brook Sheds & Brookside Nursery. Fear not however, the lit torches at the entrance and the wandering zombies will welcome you to the second annual Haunt for Hospice, a benefit in the memory of Joan Bender for United Hospice of Rockland.
BY LAUREN KATE ROSENLBLUM
The haunted event is sure to send chills down even the toughest spines, and is also for a great cause. Haunt organizers and close friends of Bender’s Kristine Effaldana and Cookie Muggeo organized the event to give back to not only their friend, but an organization they feel serves Rocklanders in their greatest time of need.
“We have had the garden center here since 1987,” said Joan’s husband John, owner of Cedar Brook & Brookside. He also said that Joan loved this time of year and if she were here to see the benefit today, “Joan would have been smiling from ear to ear.”
Last year the frightening event raised over $3,000. This year, the two hope to raise over $10,000. This may be because, as Kristine puts it, “It’s not like your other commercial haunts, nobody is going to touch you, nobody is really going to chase you around, well, maybe the guy with chainsaw will.”
All proceeds raised go directly to Untied Hospice of Rockland. Everything from the cupcakes to the brownies to the cookies, to the secret recipe of the pumpkin soup, all proceeds go right to Hospice. In particular, the pumpkin soup, which is taken from an old recipe from Joan Bender herself, is amazingly delicious. People drive from far and wide just to get some of this amazing soup.
The frightful attractions include a morgue, body part room, cemetery, funeral home, and many frightening characters that wander the area, terrifying unsuspecting victims.
For those who may be faint of heart, or young in age, there is a less scary section on the grounds. There you will find a very smart witch and a face-painting tent. You may even spot some familiar faces from around town. Some of the volunteers are from North Rockland High School ROTC, others are from youth for hospice, and some are just local residents hoping to be part of the fright for a good cause.
One such resident, Stony Point Councilwoman Luanne Konopko, is there because “Joan Bender was a good friend of mine. When Cookie and Krissy decided that they were going to hold the haunted house in her memory I had to be a part of it.” For North Rockland, this event has done more then just raise money for a great charity, it has brought the community together. Many local businesses have answered the call and donated their services.
To name a few, Stony Point Pharmacy donated some items for children and Fireside and Paradise Pizza both donated food for the actors. Other sponsors include the Elks Club, Dana Pest Control, Hudson Bay Storage and the Stony Point PBA. If you are looking for a good scare, great treats, or just wholesome family fun, be sure to stop by for Haunt for Hospice’s last weekend, which due to snow, will now be on Novemeber 5 & 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.. On November 4 at 8:30 p.m. there will be a closing ceremony at Fireside. All are encouraged to attend.