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More than Costumes and Candy: Alternative Ways to Spend this Halloween

Sep 30, 2015 02:41PM ● Published by Shelly Tower Rushe

Halloween is almost here! While costumes, candy and trick-or-treating sound like heaven for kids, handing out candy to sticky toddlers or walking for hours in the cold, holding a pillowcase full of junk, might not be on top of most grownups’ lists. If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, look no further.

Not everyone gets excited about all of that candy. For kids with food allergies, for example, the holiday can be frustrating and downright dangerous. Typical candy gathering means either turning down unsafe items or throwing them away at the end of the evening. Naturally Soergel’s, the allergy-friendly shop located at Soergel’s Orchards in Wexford, hopes to ease the concerns, risk and disappointment. The store will be offering Allergen Trick or Treat, in which children with gluten and nut allergies can dress up, collect, and eat all the candy that they can carry. “It’s guaranteed to be gluten and peanut/tree nut-free,” said Amy Soergel Foster. “However, they end up being free of other allergens as well. At the very end of the night, you can bring whatever snacks your child cannot eat and swap it for something that they can.” The event will take place Oct. 17 from 7-8:30 p.m., and registration is required.

For pet owners, Halloween can be a nightmare. Ringing doorbells, wide open doors, and lots of scary sights and sounds are not a dog’s (or cat’s) best friend. For those who would rather take their furry friend to a safe place for Halloween, Animal Friends hosts Howl-o-Ween (see what they did there?) Bring your person-friendly dog on a leash or your kitty or bunny in a carrier for a special walk, doggie games, and more at their Outreach Center on Oct. 18. Animal costumes are encouraged, but not necessary, and human costumes should be left at home. The cost is $20 for one pet or $25 for two or more, and preregistration is encouraged. Animal Friends is also hosting a W(h)ine Bark ‘n Boo Halloween-themed wine tasting on Oct. 23, and a Halloween Party for Pets on Oct. 31.

Those looking for a good scare on Halloween have lots of options, too. If you’re looking for more than one haunted house, the 14th annual Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood offers 10 haunted houses plus ghouls and goblins roaming the park. To add to the terror, the regular rides will be unlit for a spooky bonus. The park will only be open Friday and Saturday nights through Oct. 26th, and participants must be 13 or older. Tickets are $32 at the gate.

If your little monsters want something a little less spooky, Idlewild’s Hallowboo lets them trick-or-treat through Story Book Forest, meet costumed characters, ride themed rides, and enjoy fall and Halloween decorations at the park. The events will take place the first four Saturdays and Sundays of October. Not all rides will be open, so be sure to visit their website for information.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Zoo Boo gives kids a chance to participate in a costume parade and contest, collect candy and enjoy entertainment. The festivities, which are included with regular zoo admission, run Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 24-25 and are BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag).

For those looking for a more educational way to spend the day, Barnes & Noble in Cranberry Township will be holding a special Halloween party, including a craft and costume parade on Oct. 31, and will also feature Halloween-themed story times on Oct. 24, 27 and 29. Carnegie Science Center is featuring a Halloween-themed laser show featuring Ghostbusters, The Addams Family, Beetlejuice and more during the month of October; tickets are $2 for members and $8 for nonmembers. See their website for times.

If you like your scares to be authentic, Ghosts n’at Paranormal Adventures will be leading a guided ghost hunt at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie Oct. 30-31. Bring your own equipment or rent a professional ghost hunting kit to document your encounters with the paranormal. Participants must be at least 13 and accompanied by a parent or guardian.

No matter how you and your hobgoblins decide to celebrate, stay safe!

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