Top 10 Halloween Happenings and Fall Festivities

Jillian Bliss

Editor’s Note: Introducing the Texan Top 10, a new weekly series. To suggest a topic for next week’s list, leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Daily Texan staffers rounded up 10 of Central Texas’s most interesting, spooky and entertaining fall functions for members of the UT community looking to pack their Halloween weekend full of fun. Our countdown contains enough variety to put you in the holiday spirit while keeping you busy Thursday through Monday.

10. Scary Movie Night:

Students heading to morning classes Friday may want to keep Thursday night relatively “chill,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate. Gather friends and spend the evening on the couch with a scary movie. Whether reminiscing over the Disney Channel’s Halloweentown, boggling one’s brain with attempts to solve a Hitchcock plot, getting grossed out by any of the seven Saw films or freaking out over Paranormal Activity, a movie night guarantees a relaxing evening sure to put participants in spooky spirits.

9. Volunteering:

A cornucopia of kiddie carnivals take place during the Halloween weekend as many families seek alternatives for trick-or-treating. The annual free event, Longhorn Halloween, which takes place at the Frank Erwin center, has welcomed approximately 3,000 families annually since beginning in 1994. UT students, faculty and staff volunteers man the carnival’s game booths and perform music and dance displays on stage before an audience costume-clad kids.

8. House of Torment:

Thrill-seekers have only five days left to experience what the Wall Street Journal called “20,000 square feet of terror.” House of Torment features two attractions, “The Reckoning,” which allows visitors to experience the aftermath of the apocalypse and the wrath of soul reapers as they battle zombies, and “Cursed,” a haunted island tour far less relaxing than typical tropical vacations.For more on the event, read our Life&Arts review on page 10.

7. A-“maze”-ing Texas:

Austin residents looking to get away for the weekend for fun less-frightening than a haunted house can meander up to Marble Falls and explore a Texas-sized, Texas-shaped labyrinth, testing visitor’s knowledge on a list of state landmarks, which is given to guests on a game card prior to entry. The four-acre maze winds through a field located on the grounds of Sweet Berry Farm, and all maze pathways connect to each part of the state.

6. Harvest Moon Benefit:

Friday night’s festivities feature the Texas Cowboys’ annual Harvest Moon Concert headlined by Texas country artists Jack Ingram and the Josh Abbott Band. The concert, held at Fiesta Gardens in downtown Austin, raises money for the Arc of the Capital Area, a nonprofit organization aimed at aiding special needs children in the Austin area. Tickets to the Harvest Moon Concert cost $25 and are available online or at the doors, which open at 5:30 p.m.

5. Sixth Street Specials:

Downtown Austin’s bars and clubs are haunted by party-hoppers every Halloween weekend, said Laura Garcia, Austin Bottle Service marketing and events director. Austin Bottle Service operates the bars Roial, Malaia World Lounge, Fuel Nightclub, Kiss and Fly, Qua, Pure and Spill in the Sixth Street district, which each host uniquely-themed Halloween parties all weekend. Clubs open an hour early each night, offering costume contests, specials on Bacardi Oakheart spiced rum and guest reservations. Monday night will also feature Kiss FM’s Creepy Crawl bar crawl, ending in the radio station’s official party at Pure Ultra Lounge.

4. Midnight Munchies:

Kappa Delta sorority sisters will offer an array of entrees Saturday at their Midnight Munchies philanthropy event, benefitting Prevent Child Abuse America and the Austin Center for Child Protection. Football fans who mosey over to the parking lot behind the Kappa Delta house after Saturday’s home game will find $5 buys food from El Arroyo, Cornucopia, L’s Cupcakes, Panera Bread and Einstein’s Bagels in addition to homemade baked goods. Sorority members will also sell raffle tickets for gifts from Edible Arrangements and Texas Clothier.

3. Rogue Running:

Those looking for a more athletic aspect to Halloween can make a dash for the Halloween Hunt, hosted by Rogue Running athletics store. The free event, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, is comprised of a scavenger hunt where participants must search for items in groups of three to four, and complete not only the 5k race but also find each clue necessary to completing the hunt. A block party follows the race, where runners can refresh themselves with snacks, water and beer. Scavenger hunt team members are also invited to enter desserts in a baking contests, with prizes going to the most ghoulish and the most delicious dishes.

“It’s just a time for people to get together and get a run in,” said event coordinator Kara June. “We have a ton of prizes to raffle off this year, and the winning team gets a free pair of Adidas shoes each.”

2. The Devil’s Backbone:

Adventurous Austinites sick of the city can venture into the serene countryside between Wimberley and Canyon Lake. Approximately an hour from Austin, the geologic formation that rests below Highway 32 is the origin of several less-than-peaceful tales. Residents of the Devil’s Backbone, the name given to the hills and valleys which roll throughout the area, disagree on the history of the landmark’s name, but agree there is something supernatural about the area. Residents have reported spirits of Native Americans, soldiers and even animals haunting the land, and several books about the area’s ghost stories have been published. Visitors to the area can look out over the land at the roadside park, which safeguards viewers from the depths of the canyon by only a barbwire fence.

Stop into the Devil’s Backbone Tavern on the side of the road — which has enough haunting on its own — for a cool drink and a creepy tale. Area residents are eager and willing to share both.

1. Haunted ATX:

Touring town in a hearse is something few will ever do prior to leaving the physical world, but participants in the Haunted ATX tour can load up living friends in a hearse-gone-limousine and learn about some of the city’s most haunted hot-spots. The tour service is described as “super busy all month” by owner and operator Christ English, who formed the idea for his service from a tour he took in Georgia. English modified a 1979 hearse into a limousine, which he said “really freaks some people out.”

While walking tours of haunted Austin sites are available, English said his is the only one in the city to feature the converted limousine.

“I like to say ‘don’t make your last ride [in the hearse] your first,’” English said.

Haunted ATX tours last approximately two hours and accommodate two to six riders at $35 per person. English takes visitors to places he and others truly believe to be inhabited by spirits, sharing stories of the sites’ past happenings and hauntings.

Printed on Thursday, October 27, 2011 as: Top student-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween