35 Reasons Why Staten Island Deserves Respect

Staten Island deserves more respect, and here are some reasons why.
(With Nell Casey, Special Thanks To Bill Mackay and Ben Yakas)
"...Speaking of those golf courses, are you afraid of the dark? You should be if you're skulking around Snake Hill near the Latourette Golf Course, where ghosts have been seen walking the mountain roads. Or the Billop House, where the ghost of a murdered young woman is said to wander the halls and a child plays in an upstairs room. Sure, you hear ghost stories in all the boroughs, but there has been so much paranormal activity (#33) in Richmond County that a special group, The Staten Island Ghost Hunters, has formed to "prove that ghosts and spirits should not be feared, but understood." Mythic beasts more your speed? Since the 1800s there have been multiple eyewitness accounts of a Big Foot roaming the hills and foraging in the old Fresh Kills dump. Dun, dun, DUN!"


Casper the Friendly Ghost turns 60

In addition to saluting him, families can find plenty of seasonal activities where fright is not the focus
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Staten Island Advance

     STATEN ISLAND, NY -- ALL SHORES -- In 1945, The National Telefilms Association launched a new cartoon called Casper the Friendly Ghost. The animated series, narrated by a male voice, revolved around the adventures of a cute baby ghost, who unlike his brothers and sisters, longed to be liked, not frightening, to those he met.

     Casper's comic book debut came in 1949 and since then millions have come to recognize Casper as The Official Ambassador of Halloween. This year, creators are officially celebrating his 60th birthday.

     There are plenty of fans to make note of the occasion. Casper has over 1 million "friends" on the social networking site, Facebook, alone.


     But Casper's not the only friendly ghost around. On Staten Island, Dan Aliotta, along with his colleagues, Stella, Cheryl and Jennifer, started the group Staten Island Ghost Hunters (SIGHS), (www.sighosthunters.com,) in 2007.

"Our mission is to show people that ghosts and spirits were once people too and still deserve to be treated like them. They should not be feared, but understood," said Aliotta.

     With the help of voice recorders, digital cameras, night vision cameras, EMF detectors (K2 meters), night vision surveillance cameras, motion sensors and other necessary equipment, the SIGHs have proven that there are ghost and non-paranormal explanations for the haunting activities some Islanders have experienced.

     Aliotta had this to offer when it comes to "real" friendly ghosts: "Evidence seems to prove most ghosts are shy, misguided souls who have been unable to find their way to the other side. Most investigators, like us, believe it is because they have unfinished business on earth and/or are looking to find their loved ones and find closure."

     How can you tell if you are being visited by a fun and friendly spirit from the other side?

     "People have reported their name being called out when they are alone, being tapped on the shoulder when there is no one behind them, having their car keys moved from one room to another, and even witnessing a ghostly appearance. I suppose these can be considered friendly ghosts as they mean no harm to the living and maybe are just being a little mischievous and having some fun at the expense of the living," Aliotta said.

     Some people have even referred to a ghost as a "guardian angel" that has prevented them from getting hurt or making a bad business deal.

     Are you looking to celebrate Casper or find some other friendly ghosts this Halloween season? Check out these seasonal activities coming up on Staten Island:

     * Historic Richmond Town, located 441 Clarke Ave. in Richmond on the East Shore will mark Halloween on Oct. 30 starting at 3 p.m. This event will feature activities like apple bobbing, trick-or-treating and pumpkin picking; but, don't forget to be open to the friendly spirits that are rumored to still live and frolic around the this historic restoration. For tickets, which must be purchased in advance, call 718-351-1611, ext. 281. Tickets are $8 per child, $3 per adult, and $7 for children who are members. Adult members are free.

     * Enjoy Halloween with some of friendliest animals on Staten Island. The Staten Island Zoo's annual Spooktacular on the North Shore will be held Oct. 24, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and Oct. 25, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Enjoy shows, crafts, activities, contests and refreshments. To learn more, visit the Staten Island Zoo's Web site at www.sizoo.org, or call 718- 442-3100. Tickets are $13 for Zoo members and $16 for non-members. Tickets sell out quickly for this popular event and must be purchased in advance. The Zoo is located at 614 Broadway in West Brighton.

     * Would you like to pick a pack of perfect pumpkins? Meet some perky puppets? Or check out smiley sand art by Sandman Matt Long? Come to Willowbrook Park, on the West Shore, Oct. 10 (rain date is Sunday Oct. 11,) noon to 5 p.m. This annual Halloween celebration marks the end of the season for the Children's Carousel, so be sure to turn out for a few last spins on the merry-go-round. Casper might even surprise you with a visit. To learn more, visit www.sigreenbelt.org.

Shore Family Fun appears weekly in the Shore sections of the Advance. Sherrina Navani is a freelance reporter and can be reached through shores@siadvance.com.