After a summer of record-breaking heat, who doesn’t welcome the crisp fall days finally upon us? But this is Chicago, and we all know it won’t be long before we’re knee-deep in snow. So get out and enjoy the best the area has to offer when it comes to autumn and one of most kids’ favorite holidays-Halloween.
1. Record-breaking pumpkins
If you want a twist on the usual pumpkin carving-and if you’ve ever wanted to be part of a record-setting event-now’s your chance. At the Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest, visitors can add their jack-o-lantern to the thousands of others for a shot at the record books.
Last year, 26,287 pumpkins were stacked on shelves and lit at the same time. This year, the fest’s third, organizers are hoping to top that number and, hopefully, break the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for most jack-o-lanterns lit at the same time. The current record of 30,128 was set in Boston.
If you want to add your own pumpkin to the record attempt, pumpkins can be carved ahead of time and brought to the fest, or for $3 you can buy a pre-scooped pumpkin to carve at the fest. The carving knives are kid-friendly and won’t break, so parents can let their kids work away without worry, says Eric Falberg, Highwood alderman and chairman of special events.
The highlight of the event is when the pumpkins are lit. “It’s probably one of the coolest things you’ll ever see,” Falberg says. “It takes a lot of people. We start handing out lighters and people start lighting.”
The lighting takes place at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 22. It takes about 45 minutes to light all the pumpkins.
Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest
17 Highwood Ave., Highwood celebratehigh wood.com Oct. 19-23 Free
2. Celebrate bats
Could there be a better place for a bat fest than Batavia? On Oct. 22, head to the Batavia riverwalk for a celebration of all things batty. BatFest includes storytelling, a pumpkin roll, hayrides, a farmers market, games and contests. There’s also a trunk-or-treat, where cars are decorated and candy makes its way into the hands of little ghouls.
Batavia Riverwalk (630) 879-5235 batavia parks.org Oct. 22 Free
3. Scare ’em off
What says fall more than scarecrows flapping in the wind? The St. Charles Scarecrow Festival is a great place to get inspired to make your own as you view hundreds of handmade scarecrows along the park’s paths.
Don’t expect to see ordinary scarecrows-the festival’s empty-headed creations in the past have included a life-sized Noah’s Ark, Shrek and the stars of “Twilight.”
Plus, there’s a section where kids can create their own scarecrow to take home. The festival also includes entertainment, a petting zoo and a kids’ corner.
St. Charles Scarecrow Festival
Downtown at Route 64 and Fox River St. Charles (630) 377-6161 scarecrowfest.com Oct. 7-9 Free