WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s the creepy story this town wants everyone to know about. It’s also a bit kooky.
Leveraging both the success of last year’s town-wide festival honoring town native Charles Addams and the release of a new animated “The Addams Family” film set for October, organizers in Westfield are looking to make AddamsFest a regional draw.
“This really isn’t about a film for us,” Mayor Shelley Brindle told reporters during a recent press event hosted by United Artists Releasing. “It’s about community. I really thought about it. What do we have in Westfield that’s uniquely ours that we could celebrate as a community and create a real sense of place? It’s Charles Addams.”
The trailer for the film, which is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, pokes fun at New Jersey with highway sign indicating the Addams’ residence is in an eerie place: New Jersey, the same state where Addams family creator Charles Addams grew up. Addams’ history in Westfield is something that resident expert on the late Charles Addams, Ron MacCloskey, has made it his business to know.
Story continues below the trailer.
MacClosky briefed reporters on local landmarks significant in the life of Charles Addams, including a local cemetery Addams strolled through as a child a home reputed to have inspired the Addams Family home and the building housing Westfield High School, from which Addams graduated in 1929.
Standing at the edge of the Westfield Presbyterian Church Cemetery on Mountain Avenue, MacCloskey said the tombstones behind him were the same stones that a young Addams gazed on.
“These stones you’re looking at are the same stones that Charles Addams was looking at when he was a kid. His boyhood home is really only blocks from here,” he said. “So sometimes on rainy days, he’d walk from his house, come over here and wander the cemetery, think about what it would be like to be dead. What are the conditions of those bodies down deep?”
MacCloskey, who had long sought to have the municipality celebrate the life and works of Charles Addams, said he is pleased at the recent interest and he hopes the town will memorialize Addams in more ways.
“It’s great to know we finally have interest from other people,” he said. “It’s great to know we have an AddamsFest. It’s great to know that we have the Addams Tavern. … My goal in the next three years is to have a museum, a park and a statue.”
Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who chairs AddamsFest, noted that the decorations put up around town and other preparations for the press event were just the start for the town when it comes to celebrating Addams' work.
“This is the good work. This is the joyful work: highlighting our town, inviting people in, celebrating what makes us unique. That’s the great part of this job,” Mackey said.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh