WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.
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Born in 1912 and raised in Westfield, Addams was one of the country’s premier cartoonists, with his work prominently featured in The New Yorker. The Addams Family, inspired by his surroundings in Westfield, began as illustrations and grew into a television series, a live-action movie franchise and a Broadway musical. An Addams Family animated movie is expected to be released in late 2019.
“This festival is about pride of place, bringing the community together to celebrate something that’s uniquely ours,” Mayor Shelley Brindle said. She hopes that AddamsFest will put Westfield on the map, while at the same time encouraging a sense of community and supporting downtown businesses. If successful, it could become an annual event that grows each year.
Festival events will celebrate Addams and his penchant for the macabre. Highlights will include family-friendly activities, such as a trunk-or-treat and an Addams Family Fun Zone; lectures and exhibits featuring Addams’ work spanning his career at The New Yorker and as creator of The Addams Family; screenings of the 1991 “The Addams Family” movie and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Westfield’s New Vision Rialto Theater; Morticia’s Masquerade Ball at The James Ward Mansion downtown; and special food and beverage events throughout the town’s restaurants.
The idea for the three-day festival came about very organically, Brindle said. She was reading the book “What I Found in 1,000 Towns” by Dar Williams. After a chapter about how a small town in Pennsylvania put itself on the map with Blobfest, she began thinking about what unique aspect of Westfield’s history could be highlighted here. Three days later, Ron MacCloskey introduced himself as a local Addams enthusiast.
“He told me about these ideas he had and it was like a light bulb went off for me,” Brindle said.
The idea of AddamsFest instantly resonated with Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who became the festival’s chairperson.
“Having grown up with the Addams Family, I immediately saw what this could be,” Mackey said. “I think we could get another generation excited about his work.”
Brindle spoke about the inclusivity, acceptance and diversity that are aspects of The Addams Family, and how these could be incorporated into the festival.
“You think you know Charles Addams, because you know his work,” Brindle said. “There’s a lot of dimensions to Charles Addams himself that I feel people will be fascinated to learn about.”
The festival will tap into the talents of people here in town, Brindle said, and there will be plenty of opportunities for adults and even high school and middle school students to play a role. Want to get involved AddamsFest? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about how to become a volunteer or sponsor.
Visit the AddamsFest website at www.addamsfest.com for updates.