To promote the new Addams Family film coming out this October, the hometown of Charles Addams hosted the Knockturnal’s reporter for a tour of the spooky sights of Westfield, New Jersey, and a sneak peek at some advanced footage.
On a warm, August morning in New York City, a group of reporters and their families boarded a fleet of buses headed out of the city limits. Their destination: Westfield, New Jersey. A tour awaited them, one with locations both creepy and kooky. There would be footage that must remain mysterious and spooky. The day was, for lack of a better term, altogether Ooky. In other words, we were treated to a day with The Addams Family.
The Addams Family was created by Charles Addams in the pages of The New Yorker magazine in 1938 and has since lived on ever since, between movies and TV and cartoon shows and now for the first time a feature-length animated film.
Over the course of a day, I and other reporters traveled around the town of Westfield and learned about the history of the Addams Family and its legacy in the town. Read on to learn more about what the day was like and all of the things I saw.
The Morning: Arrival and Footage
We arrived in Westfield just before 10 am, delivered to the James Ward Mansion. We were greeted by city councilwoman Dawn Mackey, who told us about the mansion’s existence as a hosting site for all of the town’s biggest events, including 2018’s “AddamsFest,” a festival hosted in the last weekend of October that acknowledges how impactful the Addams Family has been for Westfield and for culture at large.
At the Mansion we “met” Dudley, a life-size diagram of a human skeleton that was drawn by a pre-teen Charles Addams. Painted originally on the wall of a barn near Charles Addams’ home, it is a display of how talented the illustrator was even as a child.
Following a close look at some memorabilia and merchandise from the Addams Family’s history, we went down the street from the Ward Mansion over to the Rialto Theater, which someone mentioned to be over 75 years old. At the Rialto, we were treated to an exclusive look at the first ten minutes of the new Addams Family. The footage (which I can’t get into in detail) promised to bring the Addams Family to a new generation, and I for one am excited to see the feature film. The movie stars Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Finn Wolfhard, Bette Midler, Allison Janney and more, and will be released October 11th.
This was followed by a reel telling us more about AddamsFest. After the massive success of the first AddamsFest in 2018, the town of Westfield is looking forward to hosting the festival again in 2019, and for years to come. Councilwoman Mackey promised that we would be in for a treat if we came this October, one filled with even more haunts for the town — itself now infamous for The Watcher House, which I encourage you to look up for yourself if you dare.
The Afternoon: A Tour, Some Art, and Lunch
After the theater, we were taken on a guided tour of some of the locations that were key to the formation of the Addams Family. The tour was led by Addams Family expert Ron MacCloskey.
Our first destination was, aptly enough, a graveyard, one within walking distance of Charles Addams’s house that he once claimed to be the thing that inspired him into getting into darker and deadlier artistic material. From there we went deeper into the town, visiting the home where Charles Addams grew up. Along the way, MacCloskey demonstrated his heavy knowledge of everything that has to do with the Addams Family and their impact on Westfield. He pointed out locations such as Charles Addams’s first childhood home, the barn where Dudley was painted, and more.
The final two stops on the tour took us to the home that many believe to be the physical inspiration for the home from The Addams Family and all of its associated material, and finally to the high school where Charles Addams had his first published cartoons in any paper. All of it combined to demonstrate some truly amazing talent and showed exactly what inspired Addams to become the man he did: basically, suburbia.
Following the tour, we were taken to the Roig Collection, an art gallery featuring the work of Westfield’s own Ricardo Roig. There, Roig and his wife/business partner played host to us and even demonstrated Roig’s talents, mimicking the artistic style of Charles Addams to paint individual portraits of each and every person on the tour.
The final event of the day was a lunch hosted at Addams Tavern, featuring Addams Family inspired food and cocktails. I personally treated myself to a Morticia Martini, among other haunted food items. To close the day Mayor Shelley Brindle thanked everyone for coming and we all went back to New York City, our days made a little bit creepier all thanks to Charles Addams’s scary creations.
Thanks to the city of Westfield, the city council, Don MacCloskey, United Artists, Ricardo Roig, and everyone else that helped put on an extraordinary day with the Addams Family (snap, snap).