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Discover the Halloween Spirit at State and National Parks

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Candy Corn

The tradition of Trick-or-Treating as you may recall from your youth is so passé. The time-honored method of collecting sweets door-to-door on Halloween night has been replaced by organized events at amusement parks and shopping centers largely due to concerns over young children's safety. The popular push for healthier lifestyles has had a noticeable impact on festivities, as ghosts and goblins find more and more granola bars, nuts, and even toothbrushes in their bags. I kid you not.

Call it what you will: progress, adaptation or even evolution. The reality is the holiday is slowly changing. Resistance is futile. This year ditch your local haunt for a road trip to any one of the numerous Halloween celebrations at state and national parks in your area. Halloween falls on a Sunday, so plan your weekend accordingly and you may be able to squeeze in more than one of the following options.

Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, hosts Autumn Night Sky: the Weird and Spooky Sky, a chance for children five years old and up to discover the myths and stories of Halloween while also searching for the brightest stars, planets, and constellations of this spooky night and hear their legends. Activities take place weekly every Saturday from October 6 to October 27 at 1:00 PM. Check out their programs page for more options.

Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, GA, has weekend celebrations through the month of October - the Pumpkin Festival, which is now in its tenth year. Kids will enjoy the Halloween Costume Party, the ever-popular Trick-or-Treat Scavenger Hunt, Pumpkinpalooza game show, pie eating contests and more. The program runs from 10:30 AM - 5:00 PM Fridays and Sundays and 10:30 AM - 7:00 PM on Saturdays, with a laser show on Saturdays at 8:00 PM. Full schedule details can be found on the Stone Mountain Park website. It also has A Tour of Southern Ghosts running Thursdays through Sundays and Halloween. Meet professional storytellers spinning their tales of famous (and not-so-famous) Southern Ghosts along the lantern-lit paths of the Antebellum Plantation grounds at Stone Mountain Park. It runs from 7 - 9 PM on Thursdays, Sundays and Halloween and 7 - 9:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

At the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL, families can participate in the Halloween Trick or Treat Event, which takes place on Friday, October 26th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. The Lincoln Neighborhood will be decorated for Halloween and will also feature candy giveaways at each historic house, storytelling, and music. Volunteers and re-enactors will attend in period dress.

Since most events end relatively early in the day, there's still the classic option of taking your children around the neighborhood to collect bagfuls of candy. Help them make this an unforgettable Halloween!

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