FLUSHING — Flushing’s Trail of Terror is the latest fall event to get the axe because of COVID-19 concerns.
On Sept. 1, the Flushing City Parks and Recreation committee announced that it would be cancelling the annual haunted spectacle, which is held every October around Halloween at the Flushing County Park. Organizers said that uncertainty about future COVID-19 restrictions and resulting logistical difficulties prompted them to call off the Trail of Terror ahead of time.
“We hate to be yet another group that’s cancelling something, but we’ll be back for next season,” said Greg Palinsky, co-chair of the Trail of Terror event. “Hopefully, we can pick back up where we left off and make it a better event next year.”
Palinsky said that the Trail of Terror planning committee wasn’t able to meet throughout the summer because of COVID-19. This proved to be a major disruption for the committee’s preparation efforts.
Committee members also determined that it would be too difficult to scale back the event or operate it with social distancing restrictions. Palinsky said that the health and well-being of volunteers also had to be considered, including Flushing High School drama students who help with reenactments and scene set-ups.
“We typically have several hundred people at a time waiting to get in line, so spacing is already an issue,” he said. “We felt that we just couldn’t make it a top-notch event.”
Another obstacle for the Trail of Terror involved transportation. Each year, Flushing Community Schools provides buses to transport guests from Bueche’s Food World on Main Street to the trail entrance at Flushing County Park. But in light of COVID-19 concerns, Palinsky said that the committee didn’t feel comfortable with asking the district for buses this year.
“A big ambiance of the event is the bus ride, and we didn’t want to cut that out,” he said.
Even though the Trail of Terror is one of Flushing City Parks and Recreation’s largest fundraisers, Palinsky said that the loss of this year’s event will not impact funding for future activities or trail maintenance—as Parks and Rec still has a surplus of funds to take care of future expenditures.
The Trail of Terror, which began in 2013, features a variety of haunted thrills and spooky characters to scare young and old alike. Patrons enter the trail by crossing over the River View Bridge and following a 1 ¼ mile route that ends at the Flushing County Park’s boardwalk.
Last year, the Trail of Terror drew a record crowd of 1,500 people to Flushing County Park and raised around $50,000 toward improvements and maintenance of the Flushing City Parks system.