An outcry has emerged from spectators who attended the Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day parade this year after costumed zombies marching with the Darkside Haunted House crew scared some children out of their wits.
In emails and on Facebook a few mothers have launched a mini campaign to bring up the issue to organizers and the Wading River-based haunted house itself, expressing their dismay.
"A day ruined"
One Wading River mom said she has been going to the parade for many years. On Sunday, she went with her three-year-old daughter to share in the happy memories that she had when she was a young girl.
“Unfortunately, our experience did not go as planned,” said Nikki Stallone in an email to Patch.
Her day was ruined when the zombie actors left the parade route scaring the bystanders. She said that they pushed through the crowd and revved a fake chainsaw near where her family and other children were set up to watch that day.
“I understand that groups may be included to attract a younger teenage crowd, but is it really necessary to expose families to bloody faces, torn clothes, and inappropriate behavior?” Stallone asked.
Another mom, who only gave her first name, Veronica, wrote in an email that the Darkside crew also scared her five-year-old daughter and her nine-year-old niece, one of the actors also revving a fake chainsaw.
The pregnant mother also alleges that she was pushed out of the way by the actor when she tried to shield the kids.
“Their behavior at a family event was unacceptable,” she wrote in an email to Patch. “They were there last year and just walked in the middle of the road where they should be. I don't understand why they had to taunt the children this year?”
Kristy Goodman was at the parade and had a similar experience. She brought her two young daughters with her on Sunday. After her encounter with the chainsaw-wielding zombie actor, the girls were crying so much she said they had to pack up and leave.
When asked about the incidents, Mike Meola from Darkside Haunted House said in an email to Patch that they’ve never gotten a complaint before even though they have marched in the parade three years in a row.
“We are consistently one of the crowd favorites and have in fact won two awards from the parade organizers,” said Meola who added that during the parade people ask them to come over to pose for pictures or run out into the parade route to take picture with them.
But the parents who complained said that the scary monsters weren’t appropriate for that type of event.
Too scary for kids
“It is disheartening to think that as parents we can't even bring our children to a parade without having to worry about sheltering from this type of situation,” said Goodman. “This is not a Halloween parade and it is not a fright fest… There are enough scary things to protect our kids from this should not be one of them.”
Stallone agreed, saying the children were exposed to something that they shouldn’t have been.
“I feel as though a little bit of their innocence was taken from them,” she said.
Meola said that he was sorry if children were frightened but as a local business the employees have “lots of friends and family along the parade route with whom the actors will have a little fun with.”
“In no way do we go after children with the intent of scaring them,” he said. “If a group was inadvertently scared by us we do apologize as there was no malicious intent involved.”
What do you think? Were the zombies and monsters from Darkside Haunted House too scary? Or was it all in good fun? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.