Spirits and Boos (Oct. 31)

October 28, 2009

Here’s the most clever promotion I’ve seen this Halloween season: The Fountain on Locust is promoting its Spirits and Boos (yes, as in alcohol – gotta love a good pun!) with a special creepy cocktail menu and “appendage appetizers” all day on Saturday (Oct. 31), 11 a.m. to midnight. The staff will be in costume, so I think it’s only appropriate that the customers be in costume too, right? And although the Fountain has great drinks, it’s a very kid-friendly joint in an old-fashioned soda fountain sort of way. Also, let me note that if you’re concerned about your kid getting too much sugar on Saturday, the servers are so well trained that they know better than to upsell you on dessert without first whispering to ask permission to mention the I-word.

Be sure to visit the homepage for various coupons and special offers, including a free soup with the purchase of a meal.  (I vote for the dill pickle-potato. Mmmm.)


Such a bummer of a week — not only is it raining (again), but it’s the final week of the year for the Children’s Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden, for the rooftop at City Museum, and for the corn mazes and other assorted Halloween activities we’ve been indulging in recently.

It’s a good time to introduce the kids to something fun that’ll last into the new year … like the Treasure! exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, now through Jan. 3, 2010. Tomorrow (Oct. 27) residents of St. Louis City and County receive free admission to the exhibit as part of the museum’s  Halloween Pirate Scarefest, a free evening of storytelling, activities, costumes and, yes, candy for the younger set. Party like a pirate from 6 to 8 p.m. — and learn about every form of treasure, from sunken ships to attic stashes.

Hey, we can see the sun today!  Woohoo!  And here I am at the computer … but I’m getting outside to work in the yard as soon as I remind you that Boo at the Zoo is on from now until Oct. 30. It’s a very non-scary, low-sugar-content nighttime option for little kids.  And yes, I know some boys M.’s age are going to The Darkness, and you can call me a mean mom all you want, but he’s not heading for any haunted houses this year.  Plenty of time for that when he’s a teenager — and can go without me!

I’m going to have to wrestle S. into a costume for the $1 discount off the $5 non-member admission (ages 2 to 12 only; kids under 2 are free).  Parking in the south lot is free, and the entrance is on the east end of the turnstiles nearest that lot.  Hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. nightly.

Another little-kid-oriented Halloween event that started Friday night is Purina Farms’ Haunted Hayloft. It’s free (parking is $5 per car) on this weekend and next (Oct. 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25) at the Gray Summit exit of Interstate 44 West. There’ll be dog shows, hayrides, milking demos and magic shows by the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Hours are 4:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3:30-7 p.m. Sunday.

If your kids are older and you’re looking for alternatives to The Darkness, check out one of these online Halloween event aggregators:

Kids in St. Louis

Parents Connect


Fox 2 News

Or if you’re the one looking for Halloween events:


Riverfront Times

This photo montage pretty much sums up our Halloween experience.  M. all about the costume, which he’s modeling here from every angle, and S. all about the candy!  Although he insisted on trick-or-treating sans costume, it didn’t hurt his haul any.

I love the idea of parades on Halloween night — it gets back a little to the old origins of the holiday, when farming communities would light bonfires and noisily try to scare away crop-destroying spirits, and later Christian Day of the Dead celebrations, which likewise involved bonfires, but also costumes of angels, saints and devils. If you’re determined not to stay home this Halloween, check out one of the Metro East parades: Friday night (Oct. 31) at 7:30 p.m. in Alton, one of American’s most haunted cities, or at 6:30 p.m. in Edwardsville.

The 92nd annual Alton parade involves more than 80 floats, bands and entrants along a route that goes from Washington Avenue at East Broadway, west along Market, ending between Sixth and Ninth streets. If you want to take part in the costume contest, be at the starting point by 6 p.m. For details, call 618.462.7527. I’m hoping for a good turnout for Alton’s sake — what with the floods and the many community events that have had to be canceled this year, the town could use a big, happy crowd to drive away evil spirits.

The Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce sponsors a parade with the theme “It’s a Small World” from Lincoln Middle School to West, to Vandalia and finally to Main Street, ending at the police station. Organizers expect more than 130 floats and a crowd of some 20,000 spectators at the parade, which, like Alton’s, is around 90 years old. For details, call 618.656.7600.

I’m the Scrooge of Halloween.  M. insists that it’s not fair he has had to miss all the trunk-or-treat events of the past week just because I think it’s silly to go around gathering candy from strangers in church parking lots when we’ll get plenty of candy this Friday from our neighbors.  “Hmph!” he says.  I look at it like this:  If our own family doesn’t trick-or-treat in our own neighborhood, who will?  Everyone knows us, and they give him and the other neighborhood kids full-size “good” candy.  I haven’t enlightened him yet — and he hasn’t figured out — that because we spend five or 10 or 20 minutes chatting at each house, our two hours of trick-or-treating yields way less sugar than it would in one of the “destination” neighborhoods.  Which also works out for me, because I don’t have to buy candy back or throw it away on the sly or whatever tricks other parents use to reduce their kids’ stash.

As it happens, M.’s school is having a professional development day on Friday (Oct. 31), so I’m going to let him wear his costume all day long, and we’ll visit some places where Halloween will be celebrated but it won’t be the only attraction.  For example: Many branches of the St. Louis Public Library are having events, including treats for kids in costumes (Schlafly and Carondelet all day, Divoll and Carpenter from 3:30 to 5 p.m.) and scary movies (Poltergeist at Kingshighway, 3:30 p.m., teens only).  He can pick up some new books to practice his fledgling reading skills, and I can shake that Scrooge tag.

Despite how it sounds, I do love Halloween. It’s the crass candy chase that makes me grumpy! (Well, that and carving pumpkins for so long yesterday that I had to literally use a scouring pad to get the dried goo off my hands.) In fact, it was last year around this very time (Oct. 24, to be exact) that I launched the STL Free For All blog, and my very second post was about Halloween.

I have a two-fer today — well for tomorrow night, to be more precise.  The first is the Dia de los Muertos celebration on Cherokee Street, and I want to give you a little background on why I’m choosing it so you don’t think I’m introducing the kids to something macabre. It’s a Mexican holiday honoring deceased relatives and their memories, so yes, it is about death, but it’s also about lives well lived. The kids’ Abuelita (my mom), although of German descent, is a longtime Spanish teacher whose friendships with Mexicans led her to experience this very family-centric custom. I grew up knowing about sugar skulls with names on them and seeing posters of the elaborate altars to the ancestors, but I also saw simple ones of old photographs and red-and-yellow marigolds (a floral symbol of pain and grief).  Abuelita still sends skull candy each year, so although we don’t get into the holiday as much as she did, the kids do know what it is.

That’s why I’m taking them over to Cherokee Street (between Indiana and Minnesota) tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m.   Authentic altars will be set up, and a passport card encourages visitors to really explore the area. And since you’ll be there over the supper hour, EAT!  Our favorite is La Vallesana, both the little food “shack” and the ice cream shop across the street, but there are many other good eateries too.

The other event is at Mad Art Gallery (www.madart.com) in Soulard from 7 to 11 p.m. It’s a show in honor of paint-by-numbers kits.  Very cheesy and very clever — even if you never painted a velvet Jesus like I did, you still know how ubiquitous those were back when we were kids.  The gallery is making some big outlines to be filled by visitors of all ages and supplying everything except the smocks.   I’m not sure what “all ages” means at an art gallery (as opposed to, say, The Pageant, where it means under-21 allowed), and when I called to find out I didn’t get through to a person.  But it definitely sounds kid-friendly, especially for older kids.

The Halloween Season

October 29, 2007

We’re on the home stretch for the haunted houses, corn mazes and weekend-only festivals (like Grant’s Farm, which I have to check out next year because I’ve heard it’s fabulous). All that’s left are the preschool costume parades on the morning of the 31st, a few random after-school parties, and the actual trick-or-treating that evening … if your neighborhood didn’t find a Wednesday too inconvenient, that is, and reschedule Halloween to this past weekend. After all the amazing creativity of the lead-up events, I’m thinking pretty soon kids will find the door-to-door tromp anticlimactic. I was very, very tempted to take the ghoul to one final music-and-lights show (his term for free outdoor concerts, in case you haven’t read the About page). The very final Twilight Tuesday-esque concert is actually on a Wednesday over at the Missouri History Museum. The band is Dr. Zhivegas and the music starts at 5 p.m. (not 6:30 as usual for the series). If you don’t want to give up trick-or-treating, the museum’s also having a Tuesday night bash from 5 to 9 p.m. Its centerpiece is an outdoor showing of The Black Cauldron. Info at http://www.mohistory.org and http://drzhivegas.com.