West Windsor Arts Kicks Off mARTian Project with a Halloween Party
at Schenck Farmstead October 30, 2022 from 4 – 7 pm
Registration is requested. Adults: $50. Children: $10. All proceeds go toward funding the mARTian Project initiative.
Costumes are encouraged, but not required.
It was 84 years ago that Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of the “War of the Worlds” was so believable that people across the country panicked, thinking Martians had landed in Grover’s Mills, New Jersey. West Windsor Arts, in partnership with the Historical Society of West Windsor, is re-creating that excitement, minus the fiction and hysteria, at a Halloween Party at the historic Schenck Farmstead, headquarters and the site of the West Windsor History Museum.
West Windsor Arts will be announcing the winning design of our mARTian Project public sculpture design contest during the event. “It seemed only fitting that we kicked off the year-long public art project on the anniversary weekend of the broadcast, an event that thrust our historic town into the national limelight,” says Aylin Green, Executive Director of West Windsor Arts. “We hope to make history again with this initiative.”
Over the next year, the winning design will be transformed into Martian-inspired sculptures to be installed in key locations throughout the town. “The Martians are finally coming to West Windsor, only this time everyone will be able to see and enjoy them,” Green adds. “The radio broadcast is such a part of the history of West Windsor. How could we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the town without some kind of tribute?”
Paul Ligeti, Vice President of the Historical Society of West Windsor, encourages everyone to revisit the story of the “War of the Worlds” by coming out to the Schenck Farmstead on October 30th. “You’ll learn new things, and look at the broadcast in a new way, by coming out to the farmstead. There will be tours of the West Windsor History Museum and the farmstead’s property, which includes a barn, farm house and showcase of historic artifacts.”
You’ll also have a lot of fun. In addition to the design contest reveal, the party will feature Halloween crafts, a fire pit, awesome food, libations and more. There will also be a very special guest, author Brad Schwartz, the tongue-in-cheek, self-proclaimed “Santa Claus of Halloween.” After publishing “Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News” in 2015, which retells the story of the October 30, 1938, radio hoax and its subsequent impact, Schwartz became a popular speaker, especially near Halloween. Legend has it that the broadcast created “mass hysteria,” but it was later learned that far fewer listeners believed the story than was reported at the time.
Schwartz referred to the phenomenon as “fake news” before the term became a part of our current culture. The folklore version of the story is of a panic. It has become a part of the region’s identity, but Schwartz asks if it was all exaggerated. The power of “fake news” to influence public thinking could not be a more timely topic. “It’s a common human trait to believe things that confirm our beliefs and opinions,” he explains.
There will be something for everyone at the Halloween Party, which is open to the public.