Family-friendly haunted events bring a little fright and lots of fun

2013-10-03T08:00:00Z 2013-10-08T13:52:07Z Family-friendly haunted events bring a little fright and lots of funJane Ammeson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 03, 2013 8:00 am  • 

‘Tis the season for thrills and chills but as many parents of young children know, sometimes too much thrilling and chilling spoils the fun.

Here are some Halloween events – haunted hayrides, walks through spook filled woods, eerie houses and even a somewhat spooky mini-golf course -- that are truly family friendly – particularly if the family’s last name isn’t Munster or Addams.

“The teen youth group and other members started working on the haunted house and Spooktacular months ago,” said Lourdes Egnatz, bulletin editor and church secretary at St. John Bosco in Highland. “We’ve been doing this for years and the Haunted House now takes up two floors of the Parrish Hall. That’s for older kids. Spooktacular is the kiddy house for babies on up to beginning grade school age; it’s more cute than scary.”

Kids are asked to dress up in their costumes for Spooktacular, held Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26 and features games, music, a contest costume, a hayride, bounce house and pumpkin decorating.

“One of the most fun are the cake walks which we have several times in the evening,” says Egnatz. The cakes are made by church members and Egnatz makes quite a few herself.

“I love to make spooky cakes,” she said.

Starting Oct. 1 through Halloween, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens’ Haunted Railroad & Fall Festival is definitely family friendly says Anicia Kosky, Communications Specialist at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso. Even the youngest child shouldn’t be spooked while watching skeletons, spiders and ghost conductors ride the miniature train past haunted houses and iron gates decorated with skulls.

Also on the agenda, Friday through Sunday nights, kids can climb aboard the Sprout Express, join their families for hayrides through the woods, listen to scary stories, make crafts and enjoy fall festival foods. Featured each Saturday are special events starting with a presentation by the Indiana Gourd Society on Oct. 5. On Oct. 12, Bob Kress, Taltree’s beekeeper demonstrates honey making and talks about bees. On the following week, dress up your canine and get him or her ready for the dog costume parade and pet portrait.

Then on Oct. 26, put on your costume and visit Taltree for scary stories, a chance to meet nocturnal animals and more Halloween fun.

Grab some glow sticks, don glow wear or bring a red LED flashlight for the Thursday night family hike – 45 minutes of walking through native prairies, woodlands and wetlands with a chance of spotting owls, frogs, toads, moths, raccoons, opossum, coyotes, and more. The hikes, led by trained staff, are held tonight and Oct. 17.

We’ve all heard of haunted houses but ghosts on the golf course? During October that’s just what you’ll find at the Not So Scary Mini Golf at Cedar Creek Family Golf Center. With friendly ghosts and happy goblins, the 18-hole course is perfect for the young and somewhat timid. Youngsters dressed in costumes receive a special treat. The course is also available for private parties.

Celebrate the old fashioned traditions of autumn at The Buckley Fall Festival Lasting Traditions at Buckley Homestead, a living history farm dating back to 1849. Held Oct. 12 and 13, this family friendly event takes us back a century or two with kid games like Sheep Toss, Frying Pan Toss and Rolling Pin Toss, a chance to pan for gold, take a hayride to the old schoolhouse and join the Pony Express. Pioneer cabin re-enactors portray military, civilians and artisans, food stuff is definitely 19th century such as cornbread straight from the wood-burning stove as well as some more up-to-date victuals such as apple dumplings, kettle korn and pierogi.

This Oct. 25, enjoy trick-or-treat goodies handed out by more than 100 sponsor tables in the newly finished barn at County Line Orchard in Hobart. There’s also live music, a bonfire, costume contest and Boo-Cho Rides.

The decorating begins weeks ahead of time as the community pitches in to create a family-friendly haunted hayride through Portage’s goblin filled Woodland Park. Held on Halloween weekend each year, the hayride begins at dusk and is for both adults and children (youngster under 8 should be accompanied by an adult).

Willing to go further afield? Check out Boo at the Zoo on Oct. 27 at the Washington Park Zoo located on the lake in Michigan City, Indiana. Offering a safe trick or treat experience, decorated zoo paths meander past booths sponsored by area businesses for young candy collectors and the zoo inhabitants are on display.

Travel up to Jollay Orchards on Coloma Road just south of Coloma, Michigan. Hayrides take passengers to apple orchards and pumpkin patches and then on through the woods where ghosts hide in the trees and ghouls peer out from the leaves to the haunted house. There’s also a petting zoo, caramel apple decorating, freshly baked apple dumplings and pies, games and even a Ferris wheel.

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