During this Halloween season, the area offers a variety of activities, ranging from scary haunted houses to fun and educational family events.
In Clinton, people can find family oriented fun. Today, the Make a Wish of Iowa, Clinton County Chapter and the YWCA Women and Children At Risk program will be hosting the Halloween House of Wonders at Eagle Point Lodge from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The House of Wonders has 13 rooms, all decorated in different themes. Katie Heysinger, of Make a Wish, said children will be able to trick or treat in a safe atmosphere. Each room includes an activity and a treat.
Cookies and drinks will also be available. Children can participate in face painting, bowling and golf. They will even be able to get their picture taken with Santa. Heysinger said everything is safe and nonthreatening and is geared for children ages 3 to 12. She said the event is so much fun and something the adults will enjoy as much as the children do.
“It's something they (younger children) can do. They have a wonderful time. Their faces just light up. And they're not scared. They don't have ghosts and goblins chasing them. But it's very exciting to go into each of these individual rooms and see different designs and all the costumes and of course, get the treat,” said Heysinger.
Admission is $2 per person who enters. All proceeds will go to the YWCA and Make a Wish.
On Monday the Clinton Mardi Gras Association will be sponsoring the 60th annual Mardi Gras parade starting at 6 p.m., with a rain date of Tuesday.
Mary Jo Dopson said in an e-mail that this year’s theme “Halloween Is...” has given the participants permission to make their floats how they like. She said the committee felt it had been a little hard last year with “A Pumpkin in Paris” and was taking it easy this year.
This year there will be a new “People’s Choice” winner. Dopson thanked the Clinton Herald for helping the Mardi Gras Committee post a link for the community to vote for their favorite parade entry. The link will be up Tuesday, Oct. 26 to Thursday, Oct 28. Dopson said this is the first time $100 will be awarded to an entry Clinton residents select.
A Halloween Lighting Contest was also held. The first-place winner was Brian and Jessica Melvin, 2536 Prospect Ave. Second place went to Julie Ramirez, 1121 N. 13th St. Dopson encourages people to check out the decorations and to come to the Mardi Gras Parade.
“It doesn't matter how much our world has changed from the first parade in 1948, the Clinton Mardi Gras parade will always be a chance for our community to get together and celebrate the Halloween season,” stated Dopson. “Ask anyone age 5 to 50 who has grown up in our area, and they will tell you about their very own memories of the float or walking unit they participated in or enjoyed the most. This is a great tradition in our area!”
In Illinois, people will find more family fun, as well as some spooky experiences. Sandy Zelinski invites people to the Great Pumpkin Patch, 16470 Black Rd., Lyndon, Ill., owned by her and her husband, Tom.
The pumpkin patch’s signature is the train ride. The train was modeled after a 1940 Switcher Engine with three gondolas and a caboose. It holds approximately 30 people and the ride is more than one-third of a mile of track. Train rides are offered through the Old Devin Mine on a forested area on the farm around the pumpkin patch and through a large tunnel. There are displays throughout the ride.
Zelinski said the pumpkin patch also features a straw maze, a corn maze, a hay ride, pumpkins, fresh baked pies, and gift shop, their own haunted house and the Lyndon Fire Department Haunted House during the weekend. She said their haunted house is $3 per person and is not as scary as the fire department’s haunted house. The haunted house has no actors in it. Through Oct. 31, the pumpkin patch is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Raven's Grin Inn, 411 N. Carroll St., Mount Carroll, Ill., is open year-round. This is a supposedly “haunted” haunted house with a variety of visual attractions.
“Why should you just have fun for just one night or two weeks a year when you can have fun the whole year,” said the inn’s owner, Jim Warfield.
Raven’s Grin Inn is open from 7 p.m. to midnight on Monday to Friday. It is also open on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight. Since October is a busy time, group sizes are limited to 10 to 15 people. People are encouraged to make reservations if they are under time constraints.