October 18

       With just two weeks to go until Halloween, our thoughts have turned to ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night!  We are blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it, to live in an area rich in Halloween activities.  Opportunities abound to be frightened half to death in a safe environment.  The only drawback being the high cost of some, which can cost upwards of
$80 for our family of four!  It is a great boost to local farmers, though, who make a substantial part of their yearly income from these events.
       For the very young and the scaredy cats, there are plenty of pumpkin patches around offering hayrides, children's corn mazes, pumpkin decorating and of course a bounty of harvest goodies to tempt.  All done in full daylight, of course.  The cost here is minimal depending on what food or decorations you buy. 
       Great for older children, families and anyone that likes a good scare.....but not too good....are the full size corn mazes, which depending on your problem solving abilities and sense of direction can take an hour or two to find your way out of.  Some even provide clues to find certain things in the maze and returning your "treasure map" completed earns a small prize.  Held during the evenings until 11:00, these full size mazes are usually offered haunted and unhaunted and more often than not, there is a haunted hayride, too.  Some offer haunted houses as well.  Bonfires are standard and hot cocoa or cider can be purchased at the concession stand along with marshmallows and sticks.  These are the events that can cost close to $20 per person to do everything, but it is a full evening of fun.
       Available one evening only are several haunted walks.  The county park system offers an annual Hobgoblin Hike for free, but donations are appreciated.  It is completely staffed by volunteers who build the displays and serve as guides and characters along the trail.   Latrobe also sponsors a hike along its public walking path.  The cost is $2-$3 and various groups provide the displays.  Derry High School's Interact Club haunts the walking path on the school grounds for the same price.
       For the true, hard-core horror fan a trip to Station Square in Pittsburgh is a must.  There can be found Frightfest, an annual event that is part haunted house, part carnival and just pure fun.  It's not for the faint of heart, however, as the effects are Hollywood quality.  This, too, is a bit more expensive.
       There are many other events and more keep popping up each year as Halloween becomes more and more popular.  Of course there are the usual dances and parades for showing off costumes and maybe winning a prize.  Trick or Treat is still the big event for the kids, though I dare say, an awful lot of teenagers still participate.  Ours follows the parade, which is always on the Saturday afternoon closest to Halloween.  So, yes, our Trick or Treating is done in the daylight in order to keep the little ones safe.
       If you're in the mood for a good scare and there isn't a ghost to be found in your neck of the woods, head on over to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania for a frightenly good time!