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Ridgewood holds Harvest Festival

Pumpkins, painted faces and period activities came to Ridgewood Sunday for the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House’s annual Harvest Festival.

Families streamed in to visit the historic Ridgewood home from around the borough and beyond, taking advantage of an opportunity to enjoy its old-fashioned atmosphere and expansive yard, which was filled with fun things for children to do.

A major draw at the event, which is one of the home’s largest fund-raisers, was a pumpkin patch set up by the 104th Precinct Council and local Kiwanis club, from which the first 500 children in the door were able to choose and take a free pumpkin. They could then paint their selected squash at tables run by local Girl Scout troops and area high schools’ Key Clubs.

The festival also featured candlestick-making, apple pressing, games and rides — all of which made the event a hit for Amber Gaspar, 8, of Ridgewood, and her three siblings.

“We threw hay on each other and picked out our pumpkins,” she said. “We made our own candles. The lady gave us a string and we had to keep it in the hot wax and keep putting it in and taking it out.”

Located at 1820, Flushing Ave., the Onderdonk House is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City and is maintained and operated as a museum by the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society.

The fun day, which started as an Oktoberfest celebration many years ago and eventually morphed into an alcohol-free family event, brought more than 700 youths and 800 adults to the home, and all proceeds will go to its operating costs, according to George Miller, the Onderdonk House’s treasurer, historian and archivist.

The landmarked house, which was built in 1709, was filled with laughter and light Sunday, but it faces a tough financial situation as its shingled roof needs to be replaced to the tune of about $180,000, Miller estimated.

“The situation with the roof’s pretty bad,” Miller said. “The whole roof really needs to be replaced. The shingles are worn and thin and they have a lot of cracks in them.”

But Sunday’s event was about having fun and celebrating autumn, and Ridgewood resident Thea Parayno said she and her two children loved its offerings.

“I’ve been here before and there’s face painting and pumpkins and other fun stuff and the kids get to see their friends from school, which is fun for them,” she said. “There are all kinds of events and the entrance fee is not bad. The kids are definitely having a good time.”

For more information about the Onderdonk House or to make a donation, visit onderdonkhouse.org, call 718-456-1776 or mail a check made out to “Greater Ridgewood Historical Society” to the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, 1820 Flushing Ave., Ridgewood, NY 11385.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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