October is the spookiest month. Halloween isn’t until Oct. 31 — but what’s the fun in waiting all month?
Halloween has its roots in ancient harvest festivals, especially those celebrated in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall. When Christianity arrived in the British Isles, so did the celebrations of All Saints and All Souls Days, and the traditions of the older festivals blended with the new holy days.
(A similar blending of indigenous and Catholic celebrations occurred in Mexico when Catholic priests arrived in the 1500s. However, while elements of Día de los Muertos can often be seen around Halloween time in the U.S., the two holidays have different origins and traditions.)
Today, Halloween is celebrated in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada as well as the U.S., and it’s becoming more popular in places like Germany and Australia.
The real fun comes on Oct. 31, when kids dress up in costume and go house to house, and fun-loving adults (sometimes also in costume) hand out treats.
But there’s plenty to do ahead of time to get in the spooky spirit. Here are a few ideas:
Visit a haunted house for a good cause
Every two years, the Huber family puts together an elaborate, family-friendly haunted house as the In-Zane Project. At this year’s event, a harvest play area will show kid-friendly movies and a snack bar will sell nachos, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, zucchini bread, hot cocoa and more. Each year’s haunted house is an elaborate maze of spooky scenes
And it’s all for a good cause: the event is a fundraiser to help pay for Zane Huber’s medical treatment. Due to a rare condition called vasa previa, Zane has had chronic health issues, including damaged kidneys, since his birth.
The haunted house is open Friday and Saturday evenings from Oct. 11 to 26 at 2420 E. Collier Road in Acampo. For more information, search for “In-Zane Project” on Facebook.
Turn your own home into a haunted house
Fake spiderwebs, jack-o’-lanterns, tombstones and more can turn an otherwise pleasant home creepy.
Plenty of Lodi stores have their Halloween finery for sale already, from the antique shops and gift shops lining School Street to Rite-Aid, CVS and Walgreens to big-box stores like Target, Hobby Lobby, Party City and Costco.
Want to save money and spend a fun day with friends or family members? Hit YouTube and Pinterest for DIY decor ideas. Or sign up for one of Painted Cellars’ paint-and-sip events at local wineries and tasting rooms — find out more at www.paintedcellarslodi.com.
The Lodi Public Library will also offer the Halloween-themed Craftastic (for ages 13 and older) from 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 12, and Crafts for Kids from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26. And don’t miss out on the Halloween-themed workshops at the Lodi Community Art Center — check www.lodiartcenter.org for a calendar and details.
Focusing on some arts and crafts projects can definitely add some creepy fun to October.
The Lodi News-Sentinel will be printing coloring pages every Thursday, and it’s easy to find free coloring pages online, too.
Pinterest is a great online source for all crafty things Halloween, from crochet ideas and costume patterns to painted rock designs. (Drop off finished rocks at the new garden on the west side of the Lodi Public Library, along Lee Street!)
If you prefer real-world interaction, the Walmart Supercenter and Hobby Lobby in Lodi both have plenty of ideas and supplies for the dedicated crafter.
Dive into other spooky local events
Halloween is a lot more fun if you enjoy it with a crowd.
Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities in the Lodi area to get spooky:
• Every weekend in October, Jellystone Park Camp Resort in Tower Park will host costume parties, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving contests and more; 209-369-1041, www.towerparkresort.com
• HalloWILD will return to Micke Grove Zoo with trick-or-treating, crafts, games and more on Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26; 209-331-2010, www.mgzoo.com
There are also several one-day events:
• Wicked Wine Stroll on Oct. 19, hosted by the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce in Downtown Lodi; 209-367-7840, www.lodichamber.com
• Halloween Festival and Haunted House at the Tuscan Wine Village in Lockeford on Oct. 18 and 19; 209-727-2070, www.thetuscanwinevillage.com
• Halloween Movie Night on Oct. 25 at Oak Ridge Winery; 209-369-4769, www.oakridgewinery.com
• Zombie Walk and Halloween Faire on Oct. 26 at the World of Wonders Science Museum; 209-368-0969, www.wowsciencemuseum.org
Be sure to check if the local church of your choice is holding a Trunk or Treat event, too.
Watch your favorite scary movie
Or a not-so-scary one, if you’d rather.
Netflix has gathered a collection of spooky films and TV shows — from family friendly (though still creepy) “Coraline” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” to more adult scares like “The Crow” and “The Conjuring” — in its seasonal Netflix and Chills section.
Hulu is offering up “Huluween,” with classics like “Child’s Play” and “Hellraiser” to brand-new original movies as part of its Huluween Film Fest.
If you don’t stream, you can still catch classics via DVR or enjoy the horror offerings like “It Chapter Two” at Lodi Stadium 12.
If you’d rather curl up with some hot cocoa for a reading session, grab a novel by Stephen King or a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s work from the Lodi Public Library or Tom’s Books.
Snap a seasonal selfie
One yard in Lodi is already decorated for October, and resident Craig Gutierrez is invited the community to join the fun. He’s put together a display of large pumpkins along with a hay bale, and a sign beckons passers-by to stop for a selfie.
“I’ve been trying to grow the big pumpkins for three years,” he said.
This year was a success, and he wanted to share them with his neighbors.
The display, at 33 S. Crescent Ave., is already attracting attention. The kids seem to especially love it, Gutierrez said.
“There’s actually a trail worn out in the grass,” he said with a laugh.
He’s had about 100 visitors drop by, but he’s hoping to see a bunch more through October.