My city’s pumpkin patches aren’t really “pumpkin patches.” They’re the same places that sell Christmas trees in December and flowers in May. (I think that’s when they start selling flowers, anyway.) By July, expect nothing but flags.
These little outdoor “stores” serve strictly seasonal purposes, and very few of them are static. Most are converted from parking lots or currently-undeveloped plots of land, and their rustic feel is somewhat offset by the busy streets and strip malls only steps away.
But, you gotta work with what you have. During October, I always set aside time to drive around aimlessly, looking for the latest up-one-minute, down-the-next Halloween headquarters.
I found a great one today. Aside from pumpkins and a few inflatable attractions for the kiddies (it seems that no Staten Island pumpkin patch is complete without some form of inflatable Scooby-Doo slide), they even managed to work a corn maze into their relatively tiny amount of real estate.
I didn’t know what to expect, because on Staten Island, “corn maze” can mean anything. Remember the one I reviewed back in 2010? Even though I walked as slowly as my legs would allow, it only took a minute to see every last leaf in there. Other local mazes have been much bigger productions, where the proprietors rented out large chunks of the woods and filled them with everything from animatronic vampires to teenagers in werewolf costumes.
Turns out, this one was somewhere in the middle. It was small and bare compared to the “real deal” corn mazes, but for something found on a busy street next to three banks and a diner, I had to admire that it existed at all.
The dead corn did not grow up here, but they did a pretty good job of transplanting it — and into the form of a maze, to boot! I expected to waddle through the thing in thirty seconds, but nope, I actually managed to get lost.
Along the way, various scary decorations made the journey more festive. I assume that many were picked up at the Spirit store just a mile up the road. There was even a rubber zombie baby on the ground, and it took every ounce of virtuous blood in my body to not be the asshole who tries to run off with it.
The really neat thing was the music. They set up speakers throughout the maze, and it played a great, haunting “drone” mixed with erratically placed screams. The experience would’ve been so much less impressive without it, especially since this was all staged directly next to those inflatable kiddy rides. Nothing ruins the feel of a spooky corn maze faster than the sounds of happy children.
I snapped a bunch of photos, and eventually, we found our way to the exit. Then I insisted that we crawl back to the maze’s start, so I could catch the whole thing on video. The long-suffering Ms. X was no big fan of this decision, nor of her directions: “Stand behind me and DON’T SAY ANYTHING.”
Here’s the video. It will give you a seizure.
We thought we were the only ones in the maze, but nope, a father and his young daughter were also in there. For whatever reason, I could not shake them. You won’t be able to tell, but more than half of that walkthrough consisted of me making out with dead corn to avoid catching innocent maze-walkers on video.
Tickets for the corn maze were $5 a pop, which seemed like robbery until I remembered that the next best maze had to be more than 45 minutes away.
As we exited, the “ticket guy” gave me a look. I’ve been at this for a long time, and I know what that look meant. It was his silent admonishment for my unlicensed recording. Come on, ticket guy. You got your money, and sticking a couple of Halloween decorations in a tiny maze really isn’t the kind of recipe that you should worry about protecting.
Some of you are going to watch the video and think, “That’s it?” Yeah, I get it. There are way better corn mazes out there. Mazes with live actors, strobe lights – even tunnels and bridges. But I don’t see those mazes when I’m just out running errands, and this was a mighty fine surprise for a Saturday afternoon that was shaping up to be so depressingly normal.
Saturday, October 20th. It’s already starting to feel like Halloween is over. I’m really going to miss stuff like this. I keep saying that the best thing about Halloween is how it turns the mundane into the marvelous, and a junky local corn maze completely captures that.
You just can’t see shit like the above in March or April.