October happenings in and around Chicago

There’s a lot to do in October, from crunching through nature trails to sitting around campfires telling scary stories. We’ve got you covered with plenty of things to do.

Children sometimes seem wired to be self-centered (how manytimes have you heard the word “mine” in the past week?), but eventhe littlest ones can reach out and make a difference in someoneelse’s life. Exercise your artistic and philanthropic sides at theNorthbrook Public Library, where kids put together artwork to bedonated to local fire departments. It’s the ultimate way to saythank you and get your hands a little dirty (or stained) for a goodcause. Free. 2-3 p.m. Oct. 22. 1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook. (847)272-6224, northbrook.info.

Making a difference

If your kids like boos with their Butterfingers, they’re in forsome spooky satisfaction at Ghost Stories in the Park … In theDark. The stories, poems and songs alternate between giving yougoosebumps and tickling your funny bone while you sit under themurky night sky. Bring blankets or cushions and huddle together forwarmth-or comfort. Is there any better month for some frightfulfun? Produced by Summer Place Theatre. Program not recommended forkids under 5. $7. Various times. Friday-Sunday. Oct. 7-16.Riverwalk Grand Pavilion, 912 Sindt Court, Naperville. (630)848-5000, napervilleparks.org.

Afraid of the dark?

Leaves are an annoyance for those of us wielding the rakes-and acomfy place to land for the little ones intent on messing up yourneat piles. But before those piles start growing, learn the basicsof tree identification and the characteristics of 10 differentspecies of trees or shrubs at Trees for Kids. Leaf collectors andcraft enthusiasts will love the chance to take a few leaves home topress. Maybe it will even make that dreaded autumn chore a littlemore fun this year. $9, $6 resident. 4-5:30 p.m. Oct. 6. IronsOaks, 20000 S. Western Ave., Olympia Fields. (708) 481-2330,ironsoaks.com.

Trees for kids

A cool new event from the Chicago Architecture Foundation isopening the doors of the city’s architectural treasures for oneevent-filled weekend. Openhousechicago 2011 is targeted at everyonewho has ever passed a building and thought, “I wish I could seewhat the inside looks like.” The event gives backstage passes tomore than 100 spaces around the city, requires no tickets orreservations, and is free and open to the public. You can take inone of the five neighborhood hubs or all five using the trams CAFis providing. Visit to the rooftop garden at Uncommon Ground onDevon Avenue, a re-enactment of the jazz club days of Meyers AceHardware in Bronzeville, a backstage tour of Lookingglass Theatre,and behind-the-scenes looks at how frozen pizza is made or howplastic bottles are converted into raw material, both in LittleVillage.

Open house to Chicago’s historic architecture

Open House Chicago

Behind-the-scenes access to 150 buildings across Chicago. Explore the hidden gems and architectural treasures of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

Fall is for walking on crunchy leaves, pulling out thosesweaters, and watching the world change before your eyes. MortonArboretum is one of the best places to do that. Some of thehighlights of AutumnFest, which runs through the month of October,include a trail of scarecrows, pottery with gourds, twilight familyadventures, a 5k run, and Theatre Hikes’ moving production of”Night of the Living Dead.”

Halloween at Navy Pier

Fun for all ages will be had throughout the Pier, including two feature films, Pier-wide trick-or-treating, a costume contest, Haunted Maze, Halloween-themed boat cruises and parties, a fireworks show and more! Guests wearing a Halloween costume or Blackhawks gear will get a complimentary skate rental with purchase of admission to Chicago Blackhawks Skate by the Lake ice rink.

Boo! at the Zoo

The not-so-scary and fun-filled event has something for the entire family to enjoy, including the “Crazy Maize” corn maze, haunted hayrides, the ever-popular “Pumpkin Smasher,” professional pumpkin carving demonstrations, a 1:00 p.m. Costume Parade followed by the Costume Showcase at 1:30 p.m., scarecrow building, and Zoo Chats about some of the zoo’s creepy critters.

Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival

Spooky Pooch Parade

Dogs are allowed in the Botanic Garden for two hours for a canine Halloween costume parade. The event includes parade, judging and awards. Nonprofits and vendors from a variety of local pet supply shops will share information and sell dog-related products.

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