Dear Neighbor,

We heard you. You want more ideas on what to do with your kids to get through the pandemic. And tips on remote learning. The inside scoop on college applications and if the SAT matters anymore. We are launching an education-focused newsletter, The Unmuted, this Thursday. Subscribe here. OK, now back to our regularly scheduled content:

Is Halloween canceled? One Brooklyn mom’s answer: a resounding NO.

Amanda Sue Nichols was brainstorming ways to trick-or-treat for her three daughters when she remembered the Rainbow Map. For the unfamiliar, the Rainbow Map was a scavenger hunt in which children made drawings and paintings of rainbows and displayed them for people to see while walking — among few acceptable activities in the early days of lockdown.

“One of the best things about Halloween is that you can put in minimal effort and your kids will still have fun,” Nichols told us. “With so many parents pulling double or even triple duty right now, asking them to plan extravagant haunted houses and scavenger hunts on top of everything else seemed excessive.”

Thus the Halloween Pumpkin Hunt 2020 was born. Similar to the Rainbow Map, children are encouraged to create pumpkin artwork, hang it in a window and then submit their location to the map Nichols created. Then, on Halloween, parents can use the map to create a scavenger hunt for their children — in costume, of course.

After realizing giving out candy might draw crowds and require too much coordination, Nichols decided to focus on costumes. But, the Cobble Hill mom said, “what’s the point of dressing up if no one is going to see?! I needed something that kids could do socially distanced, but which maintained the commonality of experience and sense of community that makes Halloween so much fun.”

That being said, Nichols recommended parents having a candy prize on hand.

The Halloween Pumpkin Hunt 2020 website launched just a few days ago. More than 50 households in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, Queens, Philadelphia and Westport, Connecticut, have signed up. It can quite literally be done anywhere. If you are interested in participating, you can learn more here.
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photo: @queensfarm/@mborowick


The Amazing Maze: A three-acre corn maze? In New York City? It’s true! Visit the Queens County Farm Museum to partake in this quintessential fall activity. Tickets must be reserved in advance.

Urban adventuring: A perk of writing this newsletter is learning about all the organizations working to improve different parts of our city. The Bronx River Alliance is dedicated to improving and restoring the Bronx River corridor to make it a recreational, educational and economic resource to surrounding communities. This Saturday, October 17, the group is hosting a two-hour kayak or canoe paddle (equipment is provided) along the river’s estuarine areas. Due to the challenges of paddling in potentially windy conditions, this event is adults only. Reserve tickets.

NYC Is Dead: We don’t think so, do you? Whatever your opinion, that’s the name of a free comedy show this Thursday, October 15, and Saturday, October 17, at 8 p.m. in Central Park. The lineup will feature comedians from Comedy Central, Netflix, “The Tonight Show” and more. Reserve your spot (donations accepted!).

Meet the next mayor of NYC: The city’s first mayoral forum will be hosted by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club — and it’s a crowded slate. Tonight at 6 p.m., hear from hopefuls Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will provide opening remarks. Advance RSVP required.

How sharp are your knives? Did you know that a properly sharpened knife should be able to effortlessly slice through a piece of paper as if it’s nothing but air? Your kitchenware likely has been working overtime since March, and might be in need of a little TLC. Astoria Cutlery offers knife sharpening for $2 per inch, with free pickup and delivery locally. Check out its site or send an email to learn more.

New York of tomorrow: The 92nd Street Y, along with public relations firm Hundred Stories, is hosting a virtual event imagining New York City in a post-Covid world. Catch the second day this Wednesday, October 14, and hear from CityLab’s Richard Florida, chef Daniel Boulud and Stellene Volandes, editorial director of Elle Decor, and many others. The event is free. Learn more and register.


In case you missed it, we’re launching a spin-off newsletter, The Unmuted, this Thursday, October 15, that will focus on everything schools. It will be written by two veteran education journalists who are going to accompany you on this journey and help you decipher the noise. Make sure you get on the subscriber list. And please, let us know how we can best help.

We need your help: We were contacted by parent advocate and Queens mom Jennifer Choi, who has been trying to gauge just how much students with disabilities are losing out due to the teacher shortage and remote learning. She told us that violations are rampant. Her survey seeks to determine what students’ greatest needs are right now. Does your child have a disability? Do you know someone who does? Please consider filling out the survey (also available in Chinese and Spanish) and spreading the word. Choi especially encourages Bronx residents and Spanish-speaking families to get in touch. You can also email her with questions.


Fair-wage housecleaning: There is a great debate about hiring housekeepers during the pandemic, and an even greater debate about paying them while they are out of work (you should). For those looking, South Brooklyn Mutual Aid has created a community market that offers cleaning services as part of a fair-wage and dignified work model for immigrant women. Learn more and sign up for services, or email with questions.

Covid-19 zone finder: New York City has released a map that enables you to input a specific address or intersection to determine if that location is a coronavirus hotspot.

Mass transit benefits: Do you receive them through your employer? Are you using them? If not, consider using that money to purchase a MetroCard to donate. Learn more.

photo: @newyorknico

Queens Comfort: If you live in Astoria, you’re probably familiar with this brunch favorite. You love the restaurant’s Atomic Fireballs (spicy deep-fried mac ’n’ cheese) and Captain Crunch chicken sandwich and conversations with beloved doorman and host, James Avatar. Unfortunately, Queens Comfort joins the many neighborhood institutions closing due to the pandemic and financial hardship. Owner Donald D’Alessio plans to reopen somewhere in Astoria once “shoulder-to-shoulder brunch can take place again.” In the meantime, consider donating to a fundraiser to support staff and closing expenses, and visit sister restaurant, Comfortland.


Less than an hour outside the city is a spot capable of stimulating nearly all the senses in one package. The Nassau County Museum of Art boasts more than 145 acres of verdant outdoor space to contemplate sculptures and hike family-friendly nature trails.

Rotating exhibitions are housed within a 100-year-old Georgian style mansion (admission and reservations required). The current exhibition, “Blue,” targets the ‘blue periods’ of a range of artists spanning centuries up to the present. See some of the many standout works here.

Pack a picnic. We did. It makes for a standout day with ample space to distance. Plus, the foliage is popping right now.

Timed tickets must be booked in advance

“Good Mourning”, 2020, Gouache on 150lb Arches Paper, 22″ x 22″


We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.

This week, we welcome artist Meg Lionel Murphy. Lionel Murphy’s paintings are informed by debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder from severe domestic violence. She works out of a little blue shack in a junkyard on her family’s property in Wisconsin, where she paints detailed, vivid works on paper and panel depicting heartbroken giants that magically grow larger, stronger, and scarier than the world around them. Her work has been featured in a number of exhibitions including the “Interior Violence” solo show at Co Exhibitions Gallery (Minneapolis), as well as group shows at Public Functionary (Minneapolis) and at The Other Art Fair (Los Angeles). She is currently working on her debut New York solo exhibition, which will take place at The Untitled Space gallery in 2021.

“Our Land”, 2020, Gouache on 150lb Arches Paper, 26″ x 50″

Some of Lionel Murphy’s work is currently displayed in “Art4Equality x Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness,” a public art and gallery exhibition that seeks to empower, enlighten and provide hope in our city. Billboards-turned-exhibits make art accessible and transform spaces usually meant for advertising into ones of power and impact.

Lionel Murphy’s billboard, titled “Land,” can be found on Myrtle Avenue and Cornelia Street in Queens. If you want to see more artists featured in this exhibition, view their work and billboard locations here.  You can find more of Lionel Murphy’s work on her website and Instagram page.

This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams, with contributions from Jade Stepeney. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana and Faye Chiu. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar

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