Our Halloween 'how' guide
How did a holy day become a horror fest? And from haunted houses to parties in the park, how will you celebrate?
"Fear City" in Morton Grove is carefully crafted trip through a post-apocalyptic Chicago. (October 13, 2011)
- STORY: Suburban theater for the week of Oct. 14-20
- In Fear City's vision of a demented Chicago, the devil's in the details
- PHOTOS: 10 movies to watch this fall
- 2407 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60643, USA
- 4830 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
- 150 E Wood St, Palatine, IL 60067, USA
- 4139 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
- 3421 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
- 1463 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
- 1 Great America, Gurnee, IL 60031, USA
- 50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
- W Belmont Ave & N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
- 600 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
- 3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
- 2200 Forest Ave, North Riverside, IL 60546, USA
- 329 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
- 17250 S Weber Rd, Crest Hill, IL 60403, USA
- 8240 Austin Ave, Morton Grove, IL 60053, USA
- W Bryn Mawr Ave & N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018, USA
- 434 E Devon Ave, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, USA
- 177th St, Hammond, IN 46323, USA
The tradition of ghosts and costumes is attributed mostly to Ireland of a thousand years ago, and the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. In late October, the leaves were falling, much of a natural world was dying and on the last day before the Celtic new year of Nov. 1, it was believed the ghosts of the dead would walk the earth. People wore costumes to appease the spirits.
The ringing of doorbells can be traced to medieval Europe and the practice of “souling,” in which the poor would go house to house to ask for food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (Nov. 2). In 19th century Ireland and Scotland, children would go “guising,” or dress up in costumes and go door to door asking for food or coins. They'd carry lanterns carved from turnips, a tradition that changed when it came to America and pumpkins worked oh so much better.
Today, Halloween has become the most commercial holiday after Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation, with the average person expected to spend about $72 this year on costumes, candy and decorations.
Phew. Thanks, Wikipedia. Next, how to celebrate Halloween? Here are suggestions from the staff of On the Town.
Edit-ogre's note: Also see Kerry Reid's all-Halloween feature this week in Suburban Stage.
“Splatter Theater”: The premise is simple enough: Start each night with freshly painted white walls. Have the new kid in high school invite over a bunch of classmates (the school jock, the virgin). Channel all the old “Friday the 13th” movies and get busy with blades and drill bits unfreshening those walls. It's one of several Halloween-themed shows at the Annoyance. Through Oct. 31 at Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N Broadway; $15-$20 at 773-561-4665 and theannoyance.com
“Dracula: the Musical”: Based on the Bram Stoker novel with music by Frank Wildhorn, produced by Theatre Nebula and Music on Stage. Through Nov. 6 at Cutting Hall, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine; $20-$22 at 847-202-5222 or draculathemusical.net
Seven Scary Tales: Funny or scary? Written by David Storms Denman. Through Oct. 31 at National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway; $15 at brownpapertickets.com
“Musical of the Living Dead”: Paying homage to classic zombie films and traditional musical theater, presented by the Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company. Through Nov. 12 at Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton Ave.; $20-$25 at musicalofthelivingdead.com
Redmoon Halloween Bash 2011: From the king of spectacles, an adults-only party with performers in costume and a fire organ. Which is? A giant pipe organ on wheels that holds an opera singer and shoots flames of course. 9 p.m. Oct. 28 at Redmoon Central, 1463 W. Hubbard St.; free (ages 21+); redmoon.org
PARTIES AND PLACES
Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America: Great America has donned its annual Halloween costume, with rides and the theme park dressed up for the occasion. Not recommended for ages 12 and younger. Through Oct. 30 at Six Flags Great America; 1 Great America Parkway in Gurnee; $34.99-$59.99 at 666-666-6666 or frightfest.sixflags.com/greatamerica
Franken Plaza: Daley Plaza turns into Halloween Plaza as part of the city's Chicagoween celebration, with entertainment (including Midnight Circus and Dave Herzog's Marionettes), trick or treating, a screening of “Beetlejuice,” costume contest parade and more. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 28-29, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 30 at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.; free; 312-744-3316 and chicagoween.us
Halloween at Chicago Parks: Park districts all over the city are offering activities such as skate party, pumpkin patches, drive-in movie series, nocturnal animals (at Garfield Park Conservatory), a live Candy Land game walking trail, doggie PUPkin party and haunted houses. Events take place through Oct. 31; 312-742-7529 and chicagoparkdistrict.com
Northalsted Halloween Parade: Think you've got a good Halloween costume? Please step aside. 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at Halsted Street and Belmont Avenue; free, northalsted.com
Navy Pier's Really Big Halloween Party: Camel, llama and donkey rides, live music, strolling sideshow characters, trick or treating and more are part of the festive activities taking place Fridays through Sundays at the Pier. (No “The Fear” haunted house this year.) Through Oct. 31 at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.; most activities are free, some require Party Pass: $20, $15 for ages 3-4, $6 for kids under 3; 312-595-7437, navypier.com