October 10, 2013
Halloween is hard enough, what with figuring out your own costume, helping the kids choose theirs and trying not to snack on the industrial-size bag of Kit-Kats you've convinced yourself is necessary, despite your house's location on a side street, off the main trick-or-treating route.
It gets even harder when you confront the dizzying array of Halloween-themed programming that zoos and museums offer (and then use one adjective or a bad pun to name).
Whether it's Spooky Seas (Shedd Aquarium), Spooky Space (Adler Planetarium), Spooky Science (Museum of Science and Industry), Spooky Zoo Spectacular (Lincoln Park Zoo) or Spooky Pooch Parade (Chicago Botanic Garden), how is a person to choose where to spend his cultural-institution-based autumn celebration of the supernatural and/or free candy?
"There are a lot. There are a lot," allows Harriet Resnick, the botanic garden's vice president of visitor experience and business development.
She cites two reasons for this October cornucopia: "We kind of get to bust out of our shell a little bit. We don't allow dogs any other day of the year" except for the Spooky Pooch Parade, she says. And "having these events does help to drive attendance" in a month where the weather doesn't always cooperate. Here is some of what's coming up.
Adler Planetarium: The lakefront space museum borrows the quote about no one hearing you scream in space for its Halloween events list. The main one is Spooky Space, Oct. 18 to Nov. 3, which encourages costumes and includes trick-or-treating at the front desk, a special, scare-increased tour of the Atwood Sphere and a Slime Science family workshop. Additionally, the planetarium's nighttime, adults-only Adler After Dark series presents Nightmare on Thursday. It offers a special Halloween cocktail, and the sky show, "Death From the Skies!" teaches "how the universe is trying to kill you." 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive; advance tickets are $10-$15; 312-922-7827 or adlerplanetarium.org
Brookfield Zoo: No longer hosting Creatures of the Night during October, the west suburban institution is focusing its efforts on its daytime Boo! at the Zoo Howloween Celebration. Some animals will get pumpkins at 11 a.m. each day of the event, and the zoo will also be highlighting its scarier creatures in keeper talks. Plus, there are haunted hayrides, a daily costume parade and contest, a professional pumpkin carver and dancers re-creating the "Thriller" video. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., October 19, 20, 26 and 27. Included in zoo admission, $15 for adults and $10.50 for children, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, 708-688-8000 or czs.org
Chicago Botanic Garden: In the Spooky Pooch Parade, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 19, participants can pay $14-$19 (advance) to dress and march their dogs in costume and have them judged. Trains, Tricks & Treats invites people to come in costume to celebrate the forthcoming holiday amid the decorated Model Railroad Garden. Treats are promised and costumes are encouraged, Oct. 19-20, weather permitting, $6 adults, $4 children. In the following weekend's evening event, HallowFest: A Garden of Good and Evil, "family friendly thrills and chills," live entertainment and face-painting are on the docket (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 26 and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27). 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe; 847-835-5440 or chicagobotanic.org
Chicago History Museum: Already sold out is Oct. 23's "BOO-ze! Haunted Pub Crawl" (CRIN-ge!), but there's still space available for the two-hour tours of the city's historic Graceland Cemetery. The $20 (nonmember) tickets are available for most of the tours, led by historian Al Walavich. The tours begin at the cemetery entrance at Irving Park Road and N. Clark St. at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Oct. 26, 27 and 31. There's a "costume-friendly" Happy Halloween trolley tour at 10 a.m. Oct. 26 ($20 adults, $10 children). And on Halloween night, the museum is hosting Boo: A Halloween Ball, an adults-only dance party, with a DJ, mixologists (bartenders), and "horror d'oeuvres and two boo-zy beverages" included with the $50 admission. 1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600 or chicagohistory.org
Lincoln Park Zoo: The daytime Spooky Zoo Spectacular encourages guests to come in costume for trick-or-treating, a haunted house and something called — here's that adjective again — Spooky Glee. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26, 2200 N. Cannon Drive; 312-742-2000 or lpzoo.org
Morton Arboretum: At the west suburban woodland reserve, Halloween coincides with the impressive display of autumn leaves. But on October weekends, the arboretum hosts Trick or Trees, kids activities, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Children's Garden. There's the Glass Pumpkin Patch, a collection of some 3,000 hand-blown pumpkins and other seasonal objects (Oct. 16-20). And the Scarecrow Trail, part of the monthlong Fall Color Festival, showcases dozens of hay persons crafted by Boy and Girl Scouts from the region. 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, $12 adult admission, 630-968-0074 or mortonarb.org
Museum of Science and Industry: The museum's October Spooky Science activities include daily tests of whether pumpkins bounce, demonstrations of novel chemical ways to light pumpkin insides and re-branding the Pioneer Zephyr and coal mine exhibits as "haunted." Oct. 12-31, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; $10-$18 at 773-684-1414 or msichicago.org
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Have an early(ish) dinner during Supper With the Snakes, the museum's Halloween tradition, featuring food, herpetological displays (snakes) and costume wearing. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 26, $20 adults and $10 children; 2430 N. Cannon Drive; 773-755-5100 or naturemuseum.org
Shedd Aquarium: The aquarium's family Halloween party, Spooky Seas, can be an evening bash or a full overnight among the fishes, depending on which ticket you buy. There'll be a live DJ and animal encounters and costumes are, of course, encouraged. For the sleepover option, kids must be at least 5. 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive; $35-$75 at 312-939-2438 or sheddaquarium.org
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