Just hours before its Halloween Spooktacular festival on Saturday, the Village of East Hills board held an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. to approve a contract for one of four professional actors hired to entertain the hundreds of children in attendance later that afternoon.
Event organizers made a last-minute decision to add the actor, which triggered a law that requires a contract for any recipient of village funds.
“The rule is laborious but necessary,” village Attorney Bill Burton said. “We don’t want to do things in a haphazard way. Everything needs to be approved by the board.”
The unexpected meeting proved the day’s sole surprise, as the annual Spooktacular went smoothly for the approximately 1,000 people in attendance, East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said.
“Everybody had a great time,” Koblenz added. “The weather was perfect.”
“It was one of biggest and best events we’ve had for Halloween time,” Burton said.
Amusements included a hay ride that drove children and their parents to 10 acres of forest, where a trail was dotted with what Koblenz called “spooky stuff,” including cobwebs as well as 25 people dressed up as characters like Dracula and a ghost. Inflatable bouncy structures, face painting and a pumpkin patch were among the additional activities for children and their families.
The event cost the Village of East Hills $7,200, which was more than offset by money raised through sponsor contributions of $4,750 and admission fees totalling $3,587, according to Trustee Stacey Siegel, who chairs the Kids in the Park Committee responsible for the event.
The resulting $1,137 surplus will go into the committee’s operating budget, though a few remaining expenses will reduce that amount, Siegel said.
“The committee runs self-sufficiently,” she said. “We have money set aside for the committee in the budget but for the last five years we’ve rarely needed to use it,” she said.
The Village Board took the opportunity of last Saturday’s meeting to approve an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of North Hempstead, which will allow East Hills to use the town’s emergency text messaging service.
“Right now, when there’s an emergency we write to everyone on email,” Burton said. “But a lot of people told us they want text messaging as well.”
Five hundred seventy-six village residents signed up for text messaging in response to a mailing sent out 10 months ago, he added. “This service will be cheaper for us to do with the town because we get a reduced rate for greater volume. Also, when partnered with them we’ll have greater clout if we ever need to get a problem fixed.”
The program will allow the village to expand its emergency preparedness.
“It’s another arrow in our quiver to protect residents and keep them informed,” Koblenz said. “But we’re not going to know if it works efficiently until, God forbid, there’s an emergency.”