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BOO! Halloween in O.C.

A Good Scare

Opportunities--some intense, some pretty tame--abound to get children and adults into the spirits of the season.


Like most holidays, Halloween is long on tradition.

According to Irish legend, there once lived a night watchman named Jack who ran into an unusual predicament when his time came to pass on: He was too much of a sinner to enter heaven, yet since he had played tricks on the devil, he was not permitted into hell either. Both sides eventually reached a compromise and forced Jack to walk the roads of the Earth until Judgment Day, carrying a lantern to make his infamy known to all those around him.

Thus was born the jack-o'-lantern. In Ireland and England for several centuries, those with a mind for celebration carved out turnips, beets and even potatoes to create demonic faces.

When the holiday caught on across the Atlantic in the 1800s, Americans opted for pumpkins, which were larger and looked more menacing from far away.

You're not likely to see any carved turnips on your block in preparation for All Hallow's Eve. But there'll be plenty of opportunities to observe Halloween. If you can't find a way to get scared at home, many places would be happy to do the job for you.

* The world's self-proclaimed biggest Halloween party continues each weekend for the 26th straight year at Knott's Berry Farm through Nov. 1.

Knott's Scary Farm features mazes, monsters, sinister shows and other assorted terrors from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $34 in advance and may be ordered by phone at (213) 365-3535 or (714) 703-2555.

* For those who prefer candy and rubber masks, the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park holds its ninth annual Boo at the Zoo Halloween Festival Friday through Sunday evenings.

From 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be storytelling, trick-or-treating, animal encounters and a costume parade. Tickets are $4 in advance and $5 at the door. Santa Ana Zoo is at 1801 E. Chestnut Ave. (714) 953-8555.

To help out with festival decorations, children and adults can bring their own carved pumpkins to the zoo today between noon and 4 p.m. for a judging contest.

* On Sunday, South Coast Plaza's Crystal Court will host a Pumpkins and Pancakes fund-raising festival, featuring the children's pop group Craig 'n Co. Benefits Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Child Abuse Services Team.

Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m., accompanied by trick-or-treating, arts and crafts and carnival booths. For $15 reservations, call (714) 780-8733; admission is $20 at the door.

* Horror isn't restricted to land, of course. The Queen Mary is getting into the act with Shipwreck '98, its annual Halloween festivities in Long Beach.

Open Friday through Nov. 1, and recommended for those over 13, visitors can wend their way through four horrific mazes in some of the most eerie parts of the ocean liner. No costumes are permitted, but you might want to carry a lucky charm in your pocket. Tickets are $17 for all ages. (562) 435-3511.

* Adults enamored of the truly horrific might enjoy the Hunger Artists theater troupe's "Madame Guignol's Macabre Theatre: Carnival of the Damned" today through Nov. 1 in Santa Ana.

The production consists of five spine-tingling original plays by local writers, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10 by phone at (714) 547-9100 or $12 at the theater at 204 E. 4th St., Suite 1 in Santa Ana. Recommended for mature audiences only.

* Just a few miles south is "Dracula," the Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse's production of Bram Stoker's classic novel. This Gothic romance plays today, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and at the same times Oct. 29-Nov. 1. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8.50 for students and seniors. Enter the playhouse at your own risk, at 661 Hamilton Ave. (949) 650-5269.

* If there is such a thing as a being a good Samaritan on Halloween, you can do it at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point on Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. Come in costume and bring a can of food per person to join the Halloween Haunt festivities. (949) 496-2704.

* The Saddleback Symphony presents a free Fright Night concert Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. in the McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. The macabre show includes "Danse Infernal," "Night on Bald Mountain" and other chillers. (949) 582-4747.

On Halloween itself, there are a variety of activities, beginning in the morning and lasting well into the witching hours.

* If you think your kids are brave enough to make it through a state-of-the-art haunted house, take them to Heritage Park at the Irvine Youth Center, 14301 Yale Ave., where Irvine teens have created a frightful setup. On Oct. 30, the house will be open from 5:45-7 p.m. for 6- to 12-year-olds; on Halloween, it will be open from 4:30-5:30 p.m. for 2- to 5-year-olds. Admission: $1. (949) 724-6750.

* From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society will present a Tales From the Tomb Tour of Santa Ana Cemetery and Fairhaven Memorial Park.

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