A cool, crisp night. A roaring campfire. Spooky shadows.
If you're in the mood for telling a scary story, there aren't many better settings than the Grand Pavilion along Naperville's downtown Riverwalk.
If you goWhat: "Ghost Stories in the Park … in the Dark!"
When: G-rated shows at 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday; PG-rated shows at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5-7 and Oct. 12-14
Where: Riverwalk Grand Pavilion, 912 Sindt Court, Naperville
Cost: $7 all ages
And if you're in the mood for hearing a chilling tale, there aren't many better programs than Summer Place Theatre's "Ghost Stories in the Park … in the Dark!"
The annual program opens Friday night and runs through the first two weekends of October with two target audiences: Youngsters 12 and younger can enjoy the G-rated batch of stories, while the slightly older crowd can get a chill from some slightly more frightening tales.
"We're aiming at spooky and scary but fun -- especially for the little guys," program director Suzanne Reeves said of the G-rated stories. "It's enough to say 'boo' but not enough to give them nightmares."
And then there's the darker, rated PG version for those who dare.
"We have a few professional storytellers, and those stories are a little more spine-tingling," Reeves said.
None of the shows are recommended for those 5 and younger.
"It does get scary. That's the point, right?" said Sue Omanson, community development manager for the Naperville Park District. "They're recommending the Friday evening shows and the early Saturday shows for children up to age 12. For the teens and older, the late Saturday evening and Sunday shows are better. They're going to be a little more intense -- a little scarier."
Most shows end with classic American folklore, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
The shows also mix in a little Edgar Allan Poe as well as some modern stuff, like a horror story about flu shots.
Reeves said the art of storytelling is becoming a rare skill in this time of texts and tweets.
"We're losing that as a culture," she said. "People don't take the time to sit down and listen to a really good story."
The shows are light on costuming and props and heavy on the natural ambience of the outdoor setting. Every now and then, the shows get an additional boost from Mother Nature in the form of thunder and lightning.
"It's more about getting up close and personal," Reeves said. "Some of stories are interactive, and some are stories they get to participate in."
People are encouraged to bundle up and bring a blanket -- and even dress up in costumes, if they wish. Hot cider and cookies will be served.
The Summer Place Theatre has been Naperville's community theater troupe since 1966 and typically performs its major productions in the Naperville Central High School auditorium. "Ghost Stories in the Park" began more than 15 years ago and remains popular.
"Summer Place Theatre is a great community theater for Naperville, and we just enjoy being able to collaborate with them," Omanson said.
Admission is $7 all ages.
Hour-long shows begin at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday the weekends of Oct. 5 to 7 and 12 to 14. The shows on Friday and at 6 p.m. Saturday are rated G; the shows at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are rated PG.
For details, visit napervilleparks.org.