Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

Photo: Salvatore Vuono

What was your favorite part about celebrating Halloween as a kid? Did you spend weeks planning your costume, like my then-10-year-old son who sculpted one out of cardboard and duct tape? Did you hit the streets as soon as school let out, not to return home until every doorbell in the neighborhood was rung?

My favorite memories were separating my candy cache into categories: bubblegum, candy bars, and lollipops. Then the tallying began. I carried the tradition over to my own family, sitting on the floor with my children helping them sort their trick-or-treat booty (lucky for me they don’t like Snickers).

But who says Halloween is just for the kiddies? The autumn holiday has grown up over the years, and there are plenty of adult-oriented parties happening all over the country. Check out these infamous haunts.

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval

The streets around Los Angeles are always jam-packed, but on October 31st, Santa Monica Boulevard is filled with costumed revelers. Organizers estimate 500,000 show up to the country’s largest Halloween street party.

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

Not to be outdone by their West Coast rivals, New Yorkers flock to Greenwich Village to partake in the ghouly festivities, including live music from 53 bands.

Freakfest in Madison, Wisconsin

Madison may be the state capital, but it remains a college town at heart. For decades, students descended onto State Street for an “unofficial” Halloween party. The spirited nature lives on with plenty of libations and entertainment.

Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball

Can there be a more witchy town than Salem, Mass.? This time of year, the city embraces its notorious history. AOL’s CityGuide rated the annual Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball one of America’s top parties.

New Orleans’ Haunted Tours

If you were a ghost, where would you want to wander eternity? Why not the Big Easy? New Orleans long has been rumored to host many spirits of the dearly departed. Take your chances of ghostly encounters on one of the French Quarter tours—Hauntings, Vampire, Cemetery, or Voodoo. Then share your tale over a potion at one of the many Halloween parties, often a dress rehearsal to Mardi Gras.

• Halloween Historical Highlights

The celebration dates back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain. Southern colonies honored the harvest with “play parties.” The immigration wave of the 1800s brought Celtic traditions, like costumes, to the United States. Today, Americans spend approximately $6 billion annually on Halloween.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer based in Simi Valley, Calif.

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The air is turning a bit crisper as fall’s spectacular pallet of fiery reds, warm oranges, and glowing yellows announces the change of season. Leaf peepers looking for fabulous foliage should consider the following destinations.

Door County Wisconsin sits on a 75-mile peninsula with 250 miles of shoreline.  Located 40 miles northeast of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Door County lies between the waters of Green Bay (to the west) and Lake Michigan (to the east). Besides its charming towns, the area features 11 lighthouses and five state parks. Visit the Door County website for a  listing of special lodging packages.

The changing fall colors of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park lasts for six to eight weeks.  The vibrant display travels down from the high elevation of the mountain peaks to the foothills surrounding Gatlinburg, T.N.   “Ultimately what drives the quality of the color is the weather at the time when change is taking place. The best color comes when we have cool crisp nights, but not hard freezes, combined with bright sunny, warm days. An early hard freeze can brown-out the leaves and they’ll drop off. Severe weather like torrential rains and sustained winds can also take a toll on the leaves, tearing them off easily once they have changed. But we always have good color somewhere in the Smokies,” says Bob Miller, spokesman for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Updated leaf reports and travel packages can be found at Gatlinburg.com.

Autumn in Arkansas is a popular time to explore the state.  Watch the color change beginning in early October in the Ozarks and move slowly southward reaching its peak in late October to mid-November.  The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s network of volunteer color spotters supplies weekly updates available by 5 p.m. (CT) each Thursday throughout the fall. The reports describe foliage changes in these three regions: northwest/north central Arkansas (Ozarks), central Arkansas/Ouachita Mountains, and southern/eastern Arkansas. Travel deals can be found at Arkansas.com.

Jim Twardowski, RN, is a travel writer based in New Orleans.

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