Asked in Atlantic City last week by NJ Online Gambling what new Meadowlands Racetrack options visitors can expect in the months ahead, track owner Jeff Gural said, “We need to have the building open for more events than we currently have.”
Step one of the plan kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. with — wait for it — “Track or Treat.”
Look for Halloween fans to mingle with fans of thoroughbred horse racing on both nights, as the “Monmouth-at-Meadowlands” nine-date meet features a first post of 7 p.m.
First there’s a “Crowchella Festival Grounds” — not Coachella, but an homage to the fabled black bird –with live music. Also on tap is “Ghoulish Gameville,” with carnival-style games, as well as “The Patch,” which features a maze for kids, inflatable bounce house, and free face painting.
There’s also a hay ride that circles the racetrack, “Zombie Invasion” laser tag featuring humans vs. the undead, and an Oktoberfest area with barbecue and German beer.
Meanwhile, “The Pumpkin Pit” will add to the fall atmosphere — even if a high temperature of 74 degrees on Friday doesn’t quite do the same. And then there’s “Haunt After Nine,” with “roaming creatures, otherworldly characters, and frightful surprises around every corner for brave souls after 9:00 p.m.”
Will the price be right?
The children’s attractions in particular are reminiscent of Hambletonian Day early each August, when many local families enjoy a low-cost afternoon. On Aug. 6, for instance, admission was just $5 per person, with adults getting a free Hambo-labeled baseball hat in return.
But for Track or Treat, tickets (all of them general admission) for each session are $35 — a major step up in cost. That might lead to more of an adult crowd for the event. Event organizers promise “plenty of Instagram and TikTok-worthy photo ops” — and word of mouth on social media could be a key factor in whether the experiment works.
Track or Treat opens at noon on Saturdays, and both the Friday night and all-day Saturday attractions close at midnight. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
If anyone seeks the thoroughbred racing/Track or Treat “daily double,” keep in mind that there is no racing at the Meadowlands on Saturday, Oct. 15. Otherwise, the double comes through until Oct. 22, the last day of thoroughbred racing at the Meadowlands this year.
Track or Treat, meanwhile, has two bonus evenings before its finale on Saturday, Oct. 29. The first is Sunday, Oct. 16, beginning at 6 p.m. (after Giants fans have left the Sports Complex following a 1 p.m. game against Baltimore). And as Halloween frenzy nears its peak, there is a Thursday Track or Treat night on Oct. 27 beginning at 5 p.m.
Prefer good, old-fashioned, fright-free standardbred horse racing evenings at the Meadowlands Racetrack? The harness races resume at the Big M on Friday, Nov. 4.