'Spooky' Newtown Creek Tour Reveals Pirates and Witch Hunts

By Meredith Hoffman on October 22, 2012 8:31am 

GREENPOINT — Pirates, bone boilers and witch hunts are more than Halloween folly — they're the history lurking beneath Newtown Creek.

And expert guides are ready to lure you through the eerie truth.

"The creek has a deep history with all sorts of wild tales," said Kate Zidar of the Newtown Creek Alliance's "very spooky" holiday ride on the highly polluted Superfund site. "We've had fat renderers, buried treasure and pirate activity. The facts are all rather creepy."

The Halloween jaunt, kicking off from the South Street Seaport on a New York Water Taxi that will meander around the water as the sun starts setting, will include the area's legendary "Blissful Banshee" female ghost, said creek connoisseur Mitch Waxman. He will be leading the tour with Zidar and other maritime specialists.

And from the Blissful Banshee to the Maspeth gypsies, who lived in a current cemetery, to the witch panic of 1600, Waxman suffers no lack of mysterious lore.

"We want people to come in costumes," said Waxman, whose wife is helping him choose his attire since she's the "Halloween fanatic of the family."

And for Zidar, who works year-round to create awareness of the creek's environmental concerns and economic opportunities, the haunted tour is a moment for lightness.

"This event is really to have fun, and if we want to talk Halloween, we can see the creek as a place of resurrection. The habitat is coming back," she said, noting recent findings by the Environmental Protection Agency that revealed a surprising amount of species diversity in the polluted waterway. "It’s the largest industrial-business zone in New York City, the largest significant maritime area in NYC."

The Very Spooky Tour kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. More details can be found on the Newtown Creek Alliance's website.

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