1998 Halloween Rally

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I remember one year when I was 6 or 7 and my friend Christine bought a plastic witch costume in a box and her own dog thought she was a fire hydrant. From that moment I realized how much fun it was to become someone else for a day. The older I got the more Halloween began to represent saying goodbye to summer, celebrating fall’s bounty and a hibernation before winter freezes over, all while appreciating the beauty and influence of the moon. Which explains why I jumped at the opportunity to create a Halloween Rally instead of one for Columbus Day. I believe goblins, ghosts and witches came long before sailors and they are a more interesting part of our history.

You cannot imagine the thrill when my faithful navigator Marguerite Harder, volunteered to help develop the course. She shares my delight in the spirit of the night and her dedication to this event was unparalleled. She commuted for months from Long Island every weekend as we pieced together the route, keeping careful notes as I drove my new truck, mapping every step and highlighting. The breakthrough occurred the day we bought the Putnam County map. We desperately wanted to bring you the new vistas you’ve been hoping for instead of the same old roads in a new direction. Our approach was short and sweet: a quick run up 684 and a check point at the exit to keep you honest. Speeding doesn’t pay became our motto. The route continued past an apple orchard, crossing the reservoir many times, a scenic tour of Elm St. and 13 cemeteries. Right around that time was when Marguerite surprised me with her new truck. She had gotten jealous of me having all the fun driving. And her husband had forgotten her birthday.(?!!)

We gave you a chance to trick or treat and found out later that some people were unintentionally misled, thinking that they had completed the previous instruction when they found the trick or treat location. We got a little creative on the signs. OK, very creative. One team actually doubled back to see if the smiley face had a nose! Reports from Tino’s were consistent: driver did you get that? Let me see-no, not like that-gimme that! Then the paper would be snatched from the well-meaning navigator’s hand for another try. You handled the symbols very well and chomped up signs like pac man. We had 38 signs on course and 12 off course signs, in addition to an off course check point. We only caught 3 of you at it where you received an orange piece of paper awarding you 500 penalty points and directions to pick up the course. One of the 3 teams crumpled up the piece of paper and turned around, knowing they would also be penalized by the signs on course they would miss.Do not follow confused many of you who did not read the general instructions. We tried to warn you. The pitchfork sign was off course. Somehow many of you had it and still finished with a decent time. It now appears to have been an unintentional self-correcting loop.

We anxiously waited for you at the check point. The first car through was a hour early, with no signs. Not one. We were speechless. We waited another hour of torture for a car. Too easy? Too hard? Defective nails? Photo -sensitive foam board? Trickery? Where were you? Finally you started arriving with reports. We probably caught at least one car with each possible off course turn. And then got a complaint about it. Many of you raced up 684. We intended it to be an opportunity to make up time. The few who didn’t need to were forced to travel at 55 MPH , agonizing for you. ( We couldn’t legally ask you to go faster than the speed limit. ) We waited for Marguerite’s husband, who entered with his brother. We left the check point at 11:30 PM, an hour and 20 minutes after the last car was due and headed to Tino’s. Her husband had been so lost he was stopped by a cop for possible DWI. He was sober and asked directions to the next road. He showed up about 12:30 AM, eliminating any possibility of cheating. WSCC members fared very well, with father-daughter team the Wooleys taking 7th place, Kim Samson and former Rally Champ Chris Caram right ahead in 6th place, and Jesse Lipscher and his wife Barbara taking 2nd place which puts Jesse in line as a main contender for 1998 Rally Champ. First place went to Neil Kizner, a former WSCC member who was only 32 seconds late to the finish, helping him overcome a hurdle of 500 penalty points piled on from catching the off course check point.

I owe thanks to Debbi and Gary Kanzler, who gave up 2 nights when they should have been packing for vacation to do 2 cold runs with valuable suggestions; Art Swartz who developed the flyer and dash plaque; my brother John who also donated a cold run; Fred Heine who worked a check point; Marguerite’s 2 friends Gianna and Giovanna who volunteered to work the off course check point (escorted by John); Ed McGuirk who had the unpleasant task to answer phones at Tino’s and soak up a ton of grief from frustrated drivers; Frank Cardone who did a cold run, worked a check point, spent 6 hours putting signs out with us and another 5 taking them down the next day; and Marguerite, not even a club member who helped design the course, made the map, did all of the computer work, the instructions, the signs, the decorations, the treats , you are my one and only best friend.

The costumes bear mention. We had a one-eyed-one-horned-flying purple people eater, a LaSweep the modern broom, a crash -test dummy car with a pair of crash test dummies, and some scary monsters. The Val-mobile became a giant green witch with 3-dimensional warts, scraggy hair and a giant pointed witch’s hat, not unlike the dash plaques we handed out. They were all very creative, we are hopeful for more participation next year. Tune in to WSCC.ORG and cross your fingers that the pictures came out. We already have more tricks and more treats in store for you in future rallies.

Valerie Christou