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updated: 10/27/2011 10:03 PM

13 dead-on, frightfully fun ideas for Halloween weekend

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  • See "The Exorcist," as well as Linda Blair, this weekend at either the Hollywood Palms in Naperville or Hollywood Blvd. in Woodridge.

      See "The Exorcist," as well as Linda Blair, this weekend at either the Hollywood Palms in Naperville or Hollywood Blvd. in Woodridge.

  • The title characters set out to spend the night in a haunted house in Nickelodeon's "Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures," airing Saturday, Oct. 29. The episode is part of the cable channel's Halloween programming for kids and teens.

      The title characters set out to spend the night in a haunted house in Nickelodeon's "Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures," airing Saturday, Oct. 29. The episode is part of the cable channel's Halloween programming for kids and teens.

  • Dress up your dog and head to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the annual Spooky Pooch Parade.

      Dress up your dog and head to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the annual Spooky Pooch Parade.
    Chicago Botanic Garden photo

  • Pumpkin carving is among the less-scary options available at Brookfield Zoo's Creatures of the Night.

      Pumpkin carving is among the less-scary options available at Brookfield Zoo's Creatures of the Night.

  • Citadel Theatre's "Poe in Octo" presents short plays based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. The action unfolds on outdoor hikes in Lake Forest.

      Citadel Theatre's "Poe in Octo" presents short plays based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. The action unfolds on outdoor hikes in Lake Forest.

  • A ghostly butler (John Milewski) guides visitors through Mayslake Hall as part of First Folio Theatre's "Searching for Peabody's Tomb."

      A ghostly butler (John Milewski) guides visitors through Mayslake Hall as part of First Folio Theatre's "Searching for Peabody's Tomb."

  • The Mausoleum of Terror is one of the attractions at Great America's Fright Fest in Gurnee.

      The Mausoleum of Terror is one of the attractions at Great America's Fright Fest in Gurnee.

 
By Lisa Friedman Miner
lminer@dailyherald.com

Halloween falling on a Monday seems a bit of a bummer. But on the positive side, the timing encourages a weekend-long celebration.

Whether you're looking for something family friendly -- or downright freaky -- here are 13 frightfully fun ideas for the weekend before Halloween.

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1. See the "Exorcist" in all its big-screen glory -- hosted by none other than star Linda Blair -- at either the Hollywood Palms in Naperville or Hollywood Blvd. Cinema in Woodridge throughout the Halloween weekend. There are lots of showings, but you might want to get your tickets ASAP.

Hollywood Palms is at 352 S. Route 59 in Naperville; Hollywood Blvd. is at 1001 W. 75th St. in Woodridge. For a full list of times and ticket prices, check out atriptothemovies.com.

2. Music! Mayhem! Zombies! It's all part of Nightmare on Chicago Street, Elgin's Halloween Bash. The event features live bands, a costume contest, a burlesque show and an appearance by Svengoolie.

The action unfolds from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, on Chicago Street between Douglas and Villa. Tickets are $7, with discounted tickets available from some nonprofit organizations in Elgin. Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Check nightmareonchicagostreet.com.

3. Zoom through the sites of some of Chicago's most famous disasters and hauntings on a special Halloween-themed Segway tour led by guides in ghoulish costumes. The tour features stops at the haunted sites of Fort Dearborn, the Iroquois Fire, the Eastland disaster and other spooky spots.

Tours meet at 337 East Randolph St., Chicago, and start at 6:30 and 9 p.m. through Saturday, Oct. 29. The fee is $65 per person, with special offers available at www.chicagosegways.com.

4. Go a-haunting with your hound at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Spooky Pooch Parade. Pups show off their costumes and compete for prizes in a host of categories from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, while their human companions take in the fall splendor.

The garden is at 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Registration prices are $14 for members in advance, $17 for nonmembers in advance and $20 at the door. Spectators pay for parking only. Register at chicagobotanic.org.

5. Ride a haunted trolley along the Fox River for The Halloween Hiawatha Ghost Story Train. Then finish the night with a campfire, stories and s'mores.

Catch it at the Fox River Trolley Museum, 361 S. La Fox St. (Route 31), South Elgin; rides are at 5 and 6:15 Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 29 and 30. The fare is $10, with advance reservations required at foxtrolley.org/reservations.html or (847) 697-4676.

6. A haunted tram and the Trail of Terror await at Brookfield Zoo's Creatures of the Night. Younger kids might prefer the less-scary pumpkin carving, arts and crafts, a Monster Mash Dance Party and more.

Activities run 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 30, at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield. Most activities are free with paid $9.50-$13.50 general zoo admission. (708) 688-8000 or CZS.org.

7. Check out "Poe in Octo," six short plays based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, as you hike Lake Forest Open Lands' Mellody Farm Nature Preserve. The performances, presented by Citadel Theatre, will be followed by cider and other goodies.

The theater treks are 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28 and 29, at 350 North Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. Might be too scary for children under 10. Tickets are $10-$15 and available at citadeltheatre.org or (847) 735-8554.

8. Venture to the "House on Haunted Hill" at Vincentennial, a celebration of horror master Vincent Price's 100th birthday at the Genesee Theatre. The thrills begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, and include a showing of the 1959 film "House on Haunted Hill" as well as the chance to meet Price's daughter, Victoria.

Tickets for the event, at 203 N. Genesee in Waukegan, are $6.50-$13 and available both at the door and at ticketmaster.com. For additional information, see geneseetheatre.com.

9. Test your tolerance for terror -- and stomach-dropping roller coasters -- at Great America's Fright Fest in Gurnee. Among the attractions are a new massacre medical center, haunted houses and mazes. The fear factor has increased this year, and the event is recommended for ages 13 and up.

Located at 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee. Open 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30. General admission is $59.99, with a $20 savings when purchased online at frightfest.sixflags.com. Some attractions are extra.

10. Set out "Searching for Peabody's Tomb," an interactive Halloween experience from First Folio Theatre that takes you through the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook. You'll encounter "spirits" from coal magnate F.S. Peabody's family, staff and even the Franciscan monks who inhabited the mansion for six decades. Your guide? A ghostly butler.

Performances/tours run on the half-hour from 7 to 10:30 p.m. all weekend (just until 10 on Sunday) at Mayslake Hall, 31st Street and Route 83 in Oak Brook. Tickets are $10. Recommended for age 12 and over. See firstfolio.org.

11. Looking for something kid-friendly? Rosemont's "Halloween Magic" is a family event that also benefits Salute Inc., serving military members returning from the Middle East. The show features magician-illusionist Mark Kaschube and his Mischievous Tricksters in a Halloween-themed program complete with dancing, special effects and animals.

It's at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. Tickets are $10 for kids, $20 for adults. Check out rosemonttheatre.com.

12. Grab some popcorn and settle into a local movie theater for spine-tingling thrills. The options include the new "Paranormal Activity 3" and the locally shot "Munger Road" from St. Charles filmmaker Nicholas Smith.

13. Stay home, dim the lights and watch the horrors unfold on your own TV. The weekend is full of viewing treats -- from classics on TCM to the kid-friendly Halloween-themed fare on Nickelodeon.

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