Photo Credit: Larry Tenner
Not only is fall the most splendid time of the year, but it's also home to the best holiday ever: Halloween. Forget the ribbons and trappings of the traditional holiday season. My money is on a holiday where you can dress up as whatever you like and parade around like it's the most normal thing in the world.
Oh, right, and it's great for kids, too.
This time of year there are always lots of fun events leading up to The Big Candy Shakedown on Oct. 31. (Yes, just because Halloween falls on a Thursday doesn't mean trick-or-treating gets moved to Saturday. Every year this question comes up. I swear.) But I encourage you to not wait until the last few days before Halloween to get your costume ready, because the annual Wild Rumpus Parade is on Saturday, Oct. 26 this year.
The event starts slightly earlier than in previous years—7:30 p.m.—and also unlike previous years, it doesn't coincide with the Georgia-Florida game. So keep that in mind when bringing the kiddos. Expect a BIG crowd, compared with the thousand (at least) costumed characters who showed up last year.
Remember, this is Athens. There will be all sorts of crazy (adult) costumes out there. I'll leave the final call up to you —and let's all keep our fingers crossed that nobody comes as Miley Cyrus—but in case you're not ready to brave the mayhem with your little one, this year's rumpus has expanded to a great kid-friendly afternoon event, too.
Come to the 40 Watt Club from 2 p.m.–4 p.m. for kid-friendly live music, a haunted house and interactive centers where kids can make their own masks, get their face painted or make a musical instrument. "A lot of parents want to get the kids involved in the Rumpus," says organizer Timi Conley, who will be performing at the kids' party with his daughter, Zoey. "So this year we're doing a whole thing for the kids."
Admission to the party is $5 per person, with all proceeds from this year's rumpus festivities going to Nuçi's Space.
If your family is the athletic type, head out to Sandy Creek Nature Center Sunday, Oct. 27 for the 13th annual Jack O' Lantern Jog and Goblin Fun Run. It includes four-mile and one-mile runs, kicking off with a costume contest at 1:40 p.m. Oct. 27. The fun run starts at 2 p.m., and the longer run is at 2:30. p.m. Registration is $20-$25 and closes Thursday, Oct. 24.
If zombies are more your thing, then head over to the University of Georgia campus earlier on Oct. 27 for the UGA Medlife Zombie Run. This race is better suited for older kids (middle and high school), but it's still pretty fun. The race starts at 7:30 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum, and each runner gets three flags—a la flag football—and then has to avoid random zombies jumping out and chasing them throughout the race. The goal is to get to the finish line with as many flags intact as possible. Register for both races at active.com.
The Halloween fun continues on Tuesday, Oct. 29, with two more events specifically for kids: Boo at the Zoo (Bear Hollow Zoo, 293 Gran Ellen Drive) and the Monster Bash costume party benefitting the Nancy Travis Childcare Project (Ciné, 234 W. Hancock Ave.).
Boo at the Zoo lets kids dress up and trick-or-treat through the zoo (no, you don't get animal food in your bags… but that would be funny), and also runs alongside a carnival on the basketball courts at Memorial Park. There are fun games for all ages, plus cotton candy and popcorn available for purchase. Boo at the Zoo and the carnival run 4 p.m.–8 p.m. and admission is $4 per child, free for adults and children younger than 2.
On the same evening is the Monster Bash, which raises money to help provide quality childcare for local families. The dance party, which is 5 p.m.–7 p.m., includes live music by the Heidi Hensley Band, a costume contest and other kid-friendly activities. It's a fundraiser, so admission is $5 per person for ages 3 and older, plus you can take part in a Halloween-themed photo booth by Saving Dawn Photography ($5 donation per photo) and a family-friendly raffle ($10 per ticket).
For a different kind of dressing up, starting this month, the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music is hosting a kid-friendly music series called the Saturday Morning Club, featuring student music ensembles. It's a great opportunity to expose your kids to some quality music and, because it's specifically a kids’ concert, you don't have to feel bad about fidgeting in seats or bathroom declarations.
Plus, going to see live music in an indoor setting is a great experience for children. They have to sit and focus, and by doing this, they learn to appreciate how the music is played and the effort it takes to create it.
Making the trips to see these concerts—along with trips to the Georgia Museum of Art's Family Day Saturdays (10 a.m.–12 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month)—gives your kids some great culture while keeping it fun and accessible. The first performance is 10 a.m. Oct. 26, with more performances in March and April of next year. Tickets are $6 for kids and students, $10 for adults. Visit tickets.perfcenter.uga.edu for more information.