Best boos in Chicago

Chicago ranks as the seventh best city in the country for trick-or-treating behind Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, to name a few, according to a survey by real estate website Zillow. We can’t quite compete with the West Coast’s weather, but apparently we can hold our own when it comes to showing the kids scary good fun.

Things to think about before you hit the streets

Layer. Temps often dip below 50 degrees on
Halloween evening and jackets don’t usually fit over kids’
Halloween gear, so you’ll want to put a sweatshirt on Junior before
you put his costume on.

Pop a wheelie. Little kids’ legs get tired
after only a few blocks, especially when they’re weighed down by
heavy candy bags, so consider bringing something for them, or at
least the candy, to ride in.

Ration. The best way to curb your kiddo’s sweet
tooth is to set a limit before you set out to trick-or-treat. One
small piece for every block walked can be a good place to start.
Just don’t travel too far.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag). Probably the most
popular trick-or-treating candy stasher is the basic plastic
pumpkin. Or, upgrade your bag to a felt/percale-lined version from
Pottery Barn Kids (.50).

Lights Out! The Chicago Police Department
advises parents not to let their kids trick-or-treat in the dark,
so start early. Most homes open their doors around 4:30 p.m. in the

And while Halloween is potentially the most frightening kiddie holiday for parents (just thinking about all that candy can give you a cavity), trick-or-treating in the city of Chicago is actually not all that daunting if you know where to go and how to roll. Tootsie Roll, if you prefer.

Top three streets to trick-or-treat

If you live on a quiet block, don’t fret; these city streets are open for your kids to load up their pumpkins.

1) 2000-2200 block of W. Bradley Place. This part of the Bell School District, just north of Addison, is well known for its raging summer block party, but its Halloween celebration is not far behind. Eyal Altman, a resident of Bradley Place, estimates giving out 600 pieces of candy over a three-hour time frame. “I challenge any block to beat that kind of turnout,” Altman says. (If you do the math, that’s about one piece of candy every 20 seconds.)

2) 2600-2800 block of N. Paulina Street. Neighbors on this block of West Lincoln Park get permission to close off the street to traffic so trick-or-treaters can have a safe space to walk. “The parents like to not have to worry about cars,” says Shayna Plankar, who lives in the neighborhood. Families fill the block and according to Plankar, the house decorations are “insane.” The block is so great to trick-or-treat on that families come from the suburbs just to go to Paulina for the Halloween experience.

3) Lakewood and Balmoral avenues. It’s not just foraging for candy in the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood near Andersonville. Residents here are known to make their houses haunted and open to visitors. According to Jennifer Pope, proprietor of The Red Balloon, “it’s like a parade with the amount of people.”

Top three neighborhood association celebrations

Speaking of parades, Chicago not only provides quaint block parties better than the suburbs’, but also organizes neighborhood celebrations that put the Thriller video street dance to shame.

1) Goudy Park (1255 N. Astor St.). You won’t see a lot of candy being passed out at Barney’s New York, but the Gold Coast does roll out the red carpet for youngsters hoping for a little less Gucci and a little more ghastly. Local Goudy Park transforms itself into “Ghouly Park” with attractions such as inflatables, a “ghouly” graveyard, Puppetbike and a roaming magician. The Ghouly Park event is held on Oct. 31 and sponsored by Gold Coast Neighbors, the Chicago Park District and Mayor Daley’s Kidstart.

2) Buena Park Neighbors Safe Trick-or-Treating (Kenmore from Irving Park to Montrose). Buena Park, north of Lakeview and south of Uptown, hosts a Safe Trick-or-Treating event on Kenmore Avenue every Halloween that sees upward of 300 kids. The neighborhood association also doles out an award for the best decorated house with a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Festivities start at 5 p.m. on Halloween.

3) Roscoe Village Halloween Parade. Roscoe Village Neighbors organizes a parade, starting on Leavitt Street, every year for everyone from little tykes getting pulled by their parents in wagons to big kids who help lead the costumed throngs down Roscoe Street. Former neighborhood board member Andrea Helms says, “The highlight of the parade is the Lane Tech Marching Band leading the crowd. I think that sets it apart from other neighborhood events.” The parade will be held this year at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30.

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