When I was a kid, Halloween was a lot simpler.
Mom would suit me up in a makeshift costume, stick a pillowcase in my hand and warn me not to eat too much junk before I got home. Thrills and chills came later, when my big brother and sister would descend upon my carefully stashed treats, leaving a trail of bruised apples and lint-covered Juju-bees in their wake.
Today, with more parents worrying about cavities, cholesterol and crime, traditional trick or treating seems to be on the wane. But don't sweat it, kids. From community parties and carnivals to creepy haunted houses, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the ghosting season in Orange County.
Parties, Parades, Festivals
The 67th Annual Halloween Parade and Orange County Fall Festival runs tonight through Sunday at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Broadway in Anaheim. The weekend's activities include pancake breakfasts, a street fair, children's art and costume contests, a classic car show and back-to-back performances by international dance and music groups. Singer Chris Finch serves as grand marshal of Saturday's parade, which begins at 5 p.m. at the corner of Lemon Street and La Palma Avenue. Every child participating in Saturday's costume contest will be invited to ride in the parade. Admission is free, games and activity prices vary. (714) 999-5191 or 776-7676.
Pumpkin City's Pumpkin Farm continues from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Halloween in the Sears parking lot at the Laguna Hills Mall, El Toro Road at Interstate 5. Highlights include pony rides, a kiddie carnival, barnyard animals and thousands of pumpkins for sale. On Saturday there's a marionette show at 2 and 4 p.m.; on Sunday, a country-Western band plays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. (714) 586-5862.
Youngsters ages 6 to 13 can create their own spooky masks and crafts at a Halloween Crafts Workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at Anaheim's Brookhurst Community Center, 2271 W. Crescent St. Admission is $5. (714) 999-5227.
What was Halloween like before snack-size Snickers and Ninja Turtle masks? Find out Saturday when the Discovery Museum of Orange County (3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana) welcomes kids ages 5 to 12 to a Victorian Halloween Party. From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the museum's Kellogg mansion will be the site of old-fashioned Halloween games, ghost tales, trick-or-treating and caramel-apple dipping. Children are encouraged to come in costume. Tickets: $10 (parents admitted free); reservations required. (714) 540-0404.
Kids ages 3 to 12 can dress for success at Halloween Happening, a costume contest hosted by South Coast Plaza and Costa Mesa's Recreation Department on Saturday in the mall's Carousel Court. Prizes will be awarded and there will be free carousel rides and goodies for the kids. Admission is free. (714) 645-4985.
San Clemente's Concordia School (3120 Del Presidente Ave.) will host a Halloween Carnival on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events include a costume contest and parade, games and a haunted house. Admission is free, game tickets are 25 cents each. Call (714) 492-3060.
Nearly 500 pieces of children's Halloween-themed art will be on view Saturday at Placentia's Town Center Village Plaza (Yorba Linda and Kraemer boulevards) during the Halloween Art Contest and Costume Parade. Pre-registration for the parade begins at 10:45 a.m.; the parade follows at 11 a.m. Admission is free. (714) 957-2651.
High-tail it down to the Jones Family Mini-Farm (31791 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano) Sunday for the first annual Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Patch. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. event includes pony and hay rides, face painting, food and games and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Admission is free. (714) 496-7328.
Critters large and small come together Sunday when the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo host Boo at the Zoo, an evening of animal shows, trick or treating, costume contests and art activities for toddlers on up. The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the zoo (1801 E. Chestnut Ave.). Tickets are $2. (714) 953-8555.
The 1990 Monster Mash Dash II and Trick-or-Treat Trot, a 5K and 2K fun run/walk, will fill the streets of Santa Ana beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. A benefit for the Orange County Ronald MacDonald House, the run will be capped off by a Halloween carnival with entertainment, face painting and costume contests in the rear parking lot of the MainPlace mall, 2800 N. Main St. Runners pay a $15 entry fee (registration begins at 6:30 a.m.); carnival admission is free. (714) 639-3600 or 661-6062.
"There's a nightmare in my closet!" On Monday, kids do the Monster Mash with monster-themed stories, poems and a short animated film at the Orange Public Library, 101 N. Center St. Open to preschool through sixth-grade youngsters, the event begins at 7 p.m with a costume parade. Admission is free; pre-registration is required. (714) 532-0379.