‘Addams Family’ creator lauded 30 years after his death

Photos Courtesy of Dawn Mackey
Wicked Windows of Westfield is one of the featured items of the inaugural ‘Addamsfest’ this Halloween in Westfield. The first-time event was created to honor native son Charles Addams, creator of ‘The Addams Family’ comic strip in The New Yorker which went on to inspire TV shows, animated cartoons and feature-length films.

WESTFIELD, NJ — They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky, and they’re coming to Westfield at the end of October.
The first AddamsFest will be held as a townwide event to honor “ The Addams Family” creator and Westfield native Charles Addams from Oct. 26 to 28. The celebration, 30 years after Addams’ death, is an ode to the Halloween season.

“We are a newly elected team and we wanted to bring something to Westfield that was uniquely ours,” said Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, the AddamsFest chairwoman, in a recent interview with LocalSource. “It will certainly be something that can’t be replicated.”

While most of the events will take place during the last weekend of October, the festivities have already begun. A replica of “The Addams Family” house has been created on Mindowaskin Lake and the “wicked windows of Westfield” are townwide window displays that Mackey is particularly excited about in town.
“It will be like how people go to Manhattan to see the Christmas windows. We want people to think, at the end of October, that they need to get down to Westfield to check out the displays,” she said.

She also said she hopes the festival will be a branding event for the community.
“This event is all about us coming together as a community and highlighting what makes us special,” Mackey explained. “That’s what will make this a destination event.”
One of the aspects that sets the event apart from others is that it will offer a closed-caption movie screening, a sensory-sensitive adaptation of the 1991 feature-length film “The Addams Family” starring Raul Julia, Angelica Huston and Christopher Lloyd, and other events for all ages.

“Each event is all, in some way, intricately tied into Charles Addams, but each being done in a very different way,” Mackey said. “There will be something for everyone.”
With more than a dozen events and activities included in the AddamsFest celebrations, the most notable are the Charles Addams art exhibit, open from Oct. 22 to 30; Morticia and Gomez’s Masquerade Ball on Oct. 26; Charlie’s Ale Garden, open only Oct. 27; and Pugsley’s Trunk or Treat, which will be held Oct. 28.
The 10-day art exhibit was donated by the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, and was originally curated specifically for the James Ward Mansion in Westfield.
“It was extremely generous of them,” Mackey said of the foundation. “It adds something amazing to the festival.”

Charles Addams was born in Westfield in 1912, and was a part of the community until he went off to college in 1930. “The Addams Family” started as a series of cartoons he created for The New Yorker magazine, and gained much wider fame as a television sitcom from 1964 to 1966 that starred John Astin, Carolyn Jones and Jackie Coogan. The characters also appeared in two eponymous animated cartoon series, and as “guest stars” in “Scooby Doo” cartoons, a reunion made-for-TV movie, a second TV series and three films.

“This festival is one for the community, completely by the community,” Mackey said. “Charles Addams is an important part of this town’s history and I think it’s imperative to honor that.” Mackey also emphasized the support the event is getting from the town, saying, “It is an absolutely gargantuan volunteer team that is working on this event. People are loaning their skill sets and the entire team is incredibly talented.”

Mackey said she started conceptualizing this idea in the beginning of January, but didn’t have final plans for it until April.
During the planning process, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle learned that an original Charles Addams drawing existed in a Westfield resident’s barn.
Brindle “felt there was a synchronicity with everything and she convinced the homeowner to loan the town the piece of art for the festival,” Mackey said.
For a full list of events and to buy tickets, visit www.addamsfest.com.