Although the crowds weren’t as large as they had been in years past, several hundred people still made their way to Norbay Street in Franklin Square on Halloween night to see Joe Allocco’s Horror House.
He had been putting on the spectacle — in which guests could walk through a miniature haunted house complete with actors dressed up in scary costumes — for more than 20 years, and was not originally planning to create the Horror House this year. He had a miniature stroke, he explained, and building the attraction on the side of his Norbay Street home would be too arduous a task.
But after his neighbor, Tito Roman — who had been heavily involved in the Horror House since its inception — died suddenly in July, Allocco knew he had to do something for his friend.
“Tito was always involved with the Haunt from the very beginning,” Allocco, 55, posted on Facebook on Oct. 12. “It didn’t and wouldn’t feel right to continue without him here. But, in the same breath, I know he would say, ‘Are you crazy? You have to do something! You’ve done it for 23 years.’”
So, Allocco decided he would decorate his front lawn with all of his Halloween props and decorations from previous years. Guests would not be able to walk through a haunted house, because it would be too difficult to construct in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control’s and New York state’s coronavirus guidelines, but live actors would walk around the premises. They were not able to interact with any of the guests directly, Allocco said, and maintained social distancing.
“We all stood on the other side of the fence, and everyone that visited was all wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” Allocco recalled of this year’s Horror House. “I was really happy about that.”
Some visitors even expressed their condolences and thanked Allocco, who was dressed as Leatherface from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” for continuing the tradition this year for children whose normal activities have been canceled this year, due to the pandemic.
“We had beautiful compliments from everyone that visited,” Allocco said, “and I’m really glad I could bring so many smiles to the community again, especially in the midst of such a terrible pandemic.”
The event, while free to attend, also raised several hundred dollars for autism and cerebral palsy organizations.