Spookifying! Weekend Family Picks

Halloween is just around the corner, so take a ghost train ride, check out some cool pumpkin displays or go for a spooky skate this weekend! For a full Halloween calendar of events, check the E3 magazine in Thursday's News-Gazette.

And don't forget the UI Homecoming Parade and Pep Rally on Friday night! (Hint: there's candy and fireworks.)

Ghost Train! Ghost Train and Haunted Boxcar, Monticello Railway Museum, 992 Iron Horse Place, Exit 166 off Interstate 72, Monticello. Admission charge.

Kids and adults can enjoy the train ride through Camp Creek Hollow with a stop at Cemetery  Road, but only the brave should check out the Haunted Boxcar! And for young children we recommend the matinee trains on Sunday for a train ride and lights-on walk-through of the boxcar.

Evening trains run at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday; and 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30. Children’s matinee ghost trains are at 1, 1:30, 2 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission of $6 (for ages 2 and up) includes the haunted boxcar. Hot food and drinks will be available for this event at the museum site.

For information: Call 762-9011 or visit the museum's website

Graveyard for charity: Halloween graveyard display, 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 303 W. Evergreen, St. Joseph. Donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis.

The Derenne family's front yard has been transformed into a Halloween graveyard to raise money for St. Jude's. Boy Scouts helped carve more than 60 jack-o’-lanterns, and friends and family decorated the yard with everything from an upside-down pumpkin-head scarecrow to skeletons and mummies.

Visitors can stroll through the display this weekend and Halloween weekend (Oct. 29, 30 and 31) and leave contributions in pails along the trail.

UI Homecoming Parade: 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, starting at Sixth Street and Taft Drive, Champaign. Free.

A Homecoming court, Marching Illini, parade floats and, best of all, candy! The parade route travels through Campustown and turns south at Mathews Avenue in Urbana before ending at the Quad. A pep rally will follow from 7 to 8 p.m. with various performances, an appearance by head football coach Ron Zook and Illini football squad and a fireworks finale.

For information: Call the UI Alumni Association at 333-1471 or visit the Homecoming website for a full schedule of events

"Flapping Bat!" Build and Grow Clinic, 10 a.m. Saturday, Lowe's, 1904 N. Prospect Ave., C. Free.

This free bimonthly kids clinic will teach children how to make a flapping bat, complete with glow-in-dark stickers.

For information: Visit Lowe's Build and Grow website to register


Halloween movie: “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Carmike Beverly Cinemas, 910 Meijer Drive, C. Admission charge.

This “KidToons” feature plays every Saturday and Sunday during October. Tickets are $3 for children and $5 for adults. The story: Shunned by the other pumpkins because of his unusual shape, Spookley proves that being different can save the day.

For information: Call the theater at 359-5687 or visit www.kidtoonfilms.com or Carmike's website

Pumpkin-carving time! "Carve Your Jack-o'-Lantern,” 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Discovery Garden, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, 600 N Lombard St., Mahomet. Registration fee.

Create your Halloween decoration out of a pumpkin or decorate a ghoulish gourd! Registration is required, $5 per child.

For information: Contact Ralph Bonati at 586-2612 or rbonati@ccfpd.org, or visit the forest preserve's website


Halloween art: "Make Paper Monsters," 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Katie Marsan, a University of Illinois art student, will help children create their own paper monsters by combining two or more of their favorite animals.

For information: Call 367-4057 or visit urbanafreelibrary.org

Apples and Pumpkins Party: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Garden Pavilion, Meadowbrook Park, South Race Street, Urbana. Free.

Caramel apple-dipping and pumpkin-decorating activities for families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered parents. Reservations appreciated at families@unitingpride.org. The event is sponsored by the UP Center of Champaign County.

For information: Visit http://unitingpride.org

"Haunted Happenings": 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Kennekuk County Park,  Danville. Admission charge.

Enjoy bonfires, haunted trails for adults and kids, hayrides, games at the kids' barn and a hot dog roast. Advance tickets are available for $10 at the Kennekuk Visitor Center and Forest Glen Preserve Ranger Station.

For information: Call 442-1691 or visit www.vccd.org

"Fright Night": Eastern Symphony Orchestra annual concert, 6 p.m. Saturday, Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Dvorak Concert Hall, Eastern Illinois University campus, Charleston. Admission charge.

Designed to appeal to kids of all ages, this concert will feature guest artists Susan Teicher and Sarah Todd on piano and select members of the Urbana High School Orchestra.

Children are encouraged to participate in the Halloween costume contest. Concert tickets are $5 to $12.

For information: Call 581-3110 or visit www.doudnatix.com

"Spooky Skate": 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, UI Ice Arena, 406 E. Armory St., C. Admission charge.

Celebrate Halloween with Campus Rec at the Ice Arena with a Spooky Skate on Sunday, October 25 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Come dressed in your Halloween best for a costume contest and enjoy ghoulish decor, haunting music and lots of candy!

Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for youth (ages 4-12), free for children 2 and under. Skate rental is $2. (Cheaper rates for UI students, faculty and staff.)

For information:  Visit the Division of Campus Recreation's website 

Lighted pumpkins! Arthur's Pumpkin House, nightly Sunday through Oct. 31, 235 S. Vine St., downtown Arthur.

See hundreds of pumpkins carved by local residents, businesses and schoolchildren.  No two pumpkins are alike! The lighted display will continue nightly through Halloween.

For information: Visit the village of Arthur's website

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Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources.

Do you have an item you’d like to submit? Email me at jwurth@news-gazette.com, or use the online calendar on the News-Gazette home page, www.news-gazette.com.

Photos:  John Sciutto of Bloomington sets up a giant spider for the Monticello Railway Museum's Ghost Train in 2006, top. At bottom, University of Illinois student Thomas Maske strips chicken wire and tissue paper off a block I on the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity float from the UI's 2006 Homecoming Parade. News-Gazette file photos by Holly Hart and John Dixon

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