Family Picks: Planes, trains and pumpkins

Family Picks: Planes, trains and pumpkins

The weather is improving just in time for the weekend, and Family Picks returns with a full lineup: arts and literacy events, a chance to learn some aviation history and, in a special Halloween preview, the Great Pumpkin House and a Ghost Train!

2-for-1: Aviation Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Chanute Air Museum at Rantoul National Aviation Center, 1011 Pacesetter Drive, Rantoul, and Frasca Air Museum at Frasca Field, Urbana.

Visit two museums for the price of one, starting at either museum. At Chanute, learn about its technical training programs and the history of Illinois aviation through the exhibit and display aircraft.

Frasca Air Museum is home to Rudy Frasca’s flying collection of World War II vintage aircraft, including a Mark 18 Spitfire, Fiat, P-40 and Zero. Admission is $5 to $10.

For information: Call 893-1613 ext. 22 or visit the Chanute museum's website


Disability Resource Expo: “Reaching Out For Answers,”  9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Lincoln Square Village, Urbana. Free.

This fifth annual event showcases resources for Champaign County residents with a wide range of disabilities. It will feature informational booths by 70-plus exhibitors, children’s activities and a Disability Pride Room with local artists. Entertainment includes the Ministry In Motion signing choir, Barking Angels Service Dogs and the Michael Powers One-Man-Band. Children will enjoy balloon animals, bounce houses, duck pond, face painting, games and prizes.

For information: Check the News-Gazette story about the Expo

It's a festival: Children’s Art Festival 2011, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway Ave., U. Free.

Enjoy activities for kids of all ages: art, music, dance, hula hooping and more. Performances are scheduled throughout the day, including the Bow-Dacious String Band, Mo’ Betta Music and Djibril Camara, a West African dance master.

For information: Call 344-8820

Arthur Pumpkin House: Grand Lighting Ceremony, 6 p.m. Saturday, 235 S. Vine St., downtown Arthur. Free.

Nearly 300 pumpkins will be display starting Saturday through Oct. 31. Pumpkins come from the Great Pumpkin Patch near Arthur and are carved by school children, business people and volunteers from Arthur and surrounding communities.

For information: Visit the Illinois Amish Country website


Miles of Hope: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Lake of the Woods Pavilion, 109 S. Lake of the Woods Road, Mahomet.

This family friendly, two-mile walk will raise money for type 1 diabetes research. Afterward, enjoy music, food, raffles and fun. All proceeds go to fund diabetes research through

For information: Register and donate at the Miles of Hope website

Champaign County Reads: Family Fun Day, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Douglass Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St., C. Free.

Enjoy a morning of family literacy activities with your kids or grandkids: reading games, face-painting, crafts magic and stories performed by local storyteller Camille Born at 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. The event includes lunch. Appropriate for kids 3-12 but all ages are welcome.

For information: Call 403-2090 or visit

Gift of life: National Kidney Foundation of Illinois Gift of Life Walk and Health Fair, 9 a.m. Saturday, University of Illinois Arboretum, 1802 S. Lincoln Ave., U. Free.

This event unites patients, transplant recipients, living donors, donor families and their loved ones for a three-mile walk around the Arboretum & Noel Welcome Garden. It also includes a family health fair, refreshments, entertainment, and entertainment, as well as a children’s Halloween costume contest and a contest for the best dog costume.

Register at or on Saturday at the walk.

For information: Call 800-951-3639 or visit this website

Ghost Train: Saturday and Sunday, Monticello Railway Museum, 992 Iron Horse Place, Monticello. Admission charge.

All ages can enjoy the train ride through Camp Creek Hollow with a stop at Cemetery Road, but the Haunted Boxcar may be a bit too scary for the younger set. The Sunday matinee is recommended for younger children, with departures at 1, 1:30, 2 and 2:30 p.m. Evening trains depart from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $6 for ages 2 and up.

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


'Aladdin Jr.’: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park St., C. Admission charge.

This one-act musical is adapted from the animated Disney film “Aladdin,” which in turn is based on the folk tale of the same name. Tickets are $6 to $8.

For information: Call 356-9063 or visit the Virginia's website


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for weekend family-friendly events. To submit an item, e-mail me at, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page, For more local events, exhibits and things to do, check out Thursday’s e3 magazine!



Air Force veteran Bob Surber, right, of Rantoul smooths the star and bar seen on the side of a Boeing XB-47 Stratojet as fellow volunteer Richard Redden, bottom left, of Decatur, helps clean the experimental model at Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul. Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

Jack-O-Lanterns light 'The Pumpkin House' on Vine Street in downtown Arthur in October 2008. John Dixon/The News-Gazette

Passengers on the 2004 Ghost Train rode through a Haunted Forest. News-Gazette file photo


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