Downtown Riverhead is gearing up for Halloween weekend, when the Business Improvement District will again host its popular costume parade on Main Street and debut a new event: the “Race of the Dead” coffin races.

The parade, which the BID says it aims to make the biggest on Long Island, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28. This year will be a $500 first place prize, $250 second place prize, and $125 third place prize based on creativity and overall best entry. The parade will finish with a parade show behind 117 East Main Street, where prizes will be awarded.

A “Jack O’Lantern Walk” on the grounds of East End Arts that night will feature more than 100 carved and lit pumpkins, according to a BID press release.

The Emma Crawford Coffin Races started in 1994 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Photo:

The coffin races will take place Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. on Griffing Avenue. This event is modeled after the Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, Colorado, now in its 22nd year, which draws over 10,1000 people annually.

“The Riverhead Coffin Races are already getting phenomenal response across social media and teams of people are already planning their ‘coffin’ racers,” BID executive director Diane Tucci said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch this new event catch on so quickly.”

Prizes will be awarded in youth and open categories, she said. The event is being co-organized with the YMCA East Hampton RECenter, and the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce who will be hosting a “Trunk or Treat” during the races.

The BID invites people to bring carved or painted pumpkins for the Jack O’Lantern Walk and participate in the costume parade, especially with floats and themed groups. The organization also invites poets, musicians or other performers to entertain attendees. Volunteers are also sought for decorating downtown lamp posts. Volunteering for BID events qualifies for community service credits, Tucci said.

Downtown businesses are planning a weekend of family-friendly and adult activities on Halloween weekend, including trick or treating on Main Street Saturday afternoon, concerts, masquerade balls and special discounts and promotions at downtown restaurants and other businesses.

For a complete schedule of events and promotions, see the Halloween Fest website.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.