Some people love Christmas. They go to those strange all-year-round Christmas stores full of the little decorative Santa statues, spend all year planning gift lists and parties, and possess a bewildering array of red and green clothing, some of which may be affixed with three dimensional snowmen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We like Christmas too.
Other people are more into the family gatherings of Thanksgiving. And we even have a few friends that take April Fool’s Day pretty seriously.
But for us, Halloween is New Year’s Eve multiplied by a year full of birthdays, plus the ethnicity-neutral revelry of St. Patrick’s Day, and the solemnity of Secretary’s Day Administrative Professional’s Day (April 27, 2011) all rolled into one awesome holiday. You don’t have to buy gifts for anyone, there are no awkward coerced family moments, and, oh yeah, there’s candy. And with the fun of costumes, the emergence of nice weather, the relative (and that’s the key word) lack of commercialization, and the beautiful duality of the holiday both being about kids (trick or treating) and adults (late night parties), it’s pretty clear that Halloween is the best holiday.
So, since it’s the start of October (and if you haven’t started preparing for Halloween yet, you’re already behind), here’s a handy users guide to celebration of Halloween in Midtown Montgomery.
Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, leading to a hilarious Facebook status update by the City of Montgomery’s official Facebook page, letting people know:
Halloween is on October 31st and that is the date that will be acknowledged. Neither the City of Montgomery, nor the Mayor will designate a supplemental date for trick-or-treating. Because Halloween is on Sunday this year, many churches can and will use this opportunity to host religious celebrations, in addition to the many secular ways society recognizes Halloween.
Thanks to the city for not bowing to pressure to “designate a supplemental date for trick-or-treating.”
The Montgomery Zoo’s “ZooBoo” – We wanted more information, and were somewhat disappointed to see that the zoo’s website was so lackluster. If you click on through to the calendar of events, you’ll find that, “the Montgomery Zoo presents a safe alternative to Halloween. ZooBoo provides a fun filled evening of games, treats, and costumed characters, education presentations, and the traditional haunted ride.” Things kick off Thursday, October 14th-17th then October 21st-24th, and starting again Thursday, October 28th through Halloween. All we know is that it’s from 6 to 9 each night. No pics. No graphics. Fun? Maybe. It’s unclear what “education presentations” means. And what’s “the traditional haunted ride?”
$10 for adults (ages 13 and older), $7 for kids (ages 3-12), free for toddlers.
Atrox Factory – If you’re more serious about being frightened by professionals, it’s well worth it to make the drive up to Leeds, Alabama. There, you will find the Atrox Factory, a haunted house whose profits all go to assorted childrens’ charities. We went last year and thought it was great – read our review over at Lost in Montgomery.
Friday and Saturdays from 6:30-midnight; Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 6:30 until 10 p.m.
It’s $15 to go through the haunt, but an additional $5 cover charge on the nights when Atrox brings in celebrities (usually stars of horror films) to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
Sloss Furnace – Also in the Birmingham area is the haunt put together out at historic Sloss Furnace. The furnaces themselves are a must-see tourist attraction during the non-haunted times of the year, especially if you are interested in Alabama or industrial history. But the legacy of corporate exploitation of workers adds a little extra creepy air as you wander through the facilities at night with that unreproducible smell of age and decay hanging in the air and various weirdos popping out of dark crevices. Not the scariest haunt around, but probably worth it if you have never been inside an abandoned steel mill. You can tour both haunts for $20.
Netherworld – And then at the top of the easily-drivable heap of area haunted houses is Atlanta’s Netherworld. We are planning to go this year and just can’t wait. We’ll write it up over at Lost in Montgomery when we go, so stay tuned. It’s a little more pricey, but seems like it’d be worth it, with both haunts available for $27.
Haunted Hearse – One of the Halloween events we are most excited about checking out here in town is the new haunted hearse. Some enterprising entrepreneurs in town knew that there were folks like us out there who dig spooky things and have evidently somehow acquired an actual hearse and are offering tours. We bet they drive folks through Montgomery’s own Oakwood Cemetery. Of course, you could always go there on your own. Why go pay money to be frightened by theater students in expensive latex at places like Atrox and Netherworld when you can have a genuine communion with the actual dead in Montgomery’s most famous and most awesome cemetery? They do pickups from The Alley downtown and tickets are $10. Check out their Facebook page.
Corn Mazes – Two years ago we went to a corn maze (or “maize,” as they spelled it) out in nearby Titus. That particular one isn’t there anymore, but if you are interested in finding a maze or a pumpkin patch, this helpful website will help you locate either. Honestly, even as adults with no children we had a lot of fun navigating the complex corn maze in the dark. We were only sad we didn’t get to operate the cannon that shoots corn. If you’ve got youngsters, these things are probably even more fun.
Trick Or Treat – Despite the national and local decline of crime, the reality is that we live in communities that are often paralyzed by fear. There’s no better example of that than the decline of trick or treating and the emergence of “safe” indoor activities. There’s nothing wrong with fall festivals. Heck, they’re awesome. But they shouldn’t trade off with the community spirit promoted by going to the doors of strangers and having the audacity to ask for a treat.
Please let us know if there are other Halloween activities that we should be aware of!
Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.