A haunting good time: Your guide to area Halloween events

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Paranormal enthusiasts can learn about the spooky history of Poplar Grove Plantation--and maybe even see some spirits--during a ghost tour Friday night.
Paranormal enthusiasts can learn about the spooky history of Poplar Grove Plantation–and maybe even see some spirits–during a ghost tour Friday night. Courtesy photos.

Fright night is almost upon us, and there are plenty of Halloween happenings—of the creepy and kid-friendly varieties—to get you in the spirit.

Around dusk Saturday, monsters, superheroes and princesses will take to the streets across the Port City to knock on doors for the coveted candy.

But there are some alternatives to the traditional trick or treat routine, as well as pre-Halloween fun to be had for adults and children alike.

You’ll find some haunting highlights below to help you plan your Halloween festivities.

Trunk or treat

Some area organizations are offering up goodies in a safe atmosphere on Saturday.

Harbor United Methodist Church, 4853 Masonboro Loop Road, hosts its Trunk or Treat event from 2 to 4 p.m. In addition to candy, there will be free hot dogs and a bounce house.

The tenth annual Trick or Treat in the Park at Hampstead Kiwanis Park, 586 Sloop Point Loop Road, features hay rides, a costume contest, a bounce house and maybe even an appearance by Elvis. It all gets underway at 5 p.m.

The Town of Leland’s seventh annual Trunk or Treat runs from 4 to 6 p.m. at Leland Municipal Park, 102 Town Hall Drive. Local businesses and groups will be give out goodies to children. The Leland Police and Fire departments will be on site to add to the safety of the event. No pets are allowed.

Celebrate Halloween, coastal style

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, 900 Loggerhead Road in Kure Beach, offers up three nights of haunting Halloween fun for the family during its annual Trick or Treat Under the Sea event, which runs this year from 4:30 to 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) through Friday. There, children will get to play games and see magic shows, live animal encounters and spooky divers swimming among the sharks. Local merchants, also dressed up for the occassion, will be on hand to give away treats.

Children 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. The aquarium asks that participants go green by bringing along their own trick-or-treat bag.

Admission is $11 (children 2 and under are free). Tickets can purchased in advance or at the door.

If you’re feeling adventurous while you’re there, you can take a walk down the free Haunted Trail at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, 1000 Loggerhead Road. The trail is open from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and is recommended for ages 10 and older.

Get some eerie education

Kids can get a quick lesson in the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, through some arts and crafts at New Hanover County Library, 201 Chestnut St. From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, children ages 5 to 9 can create ornamental skull masks, marigold necklaces and boutonnieres, as well as papel picado banners. It’s free and there’s no need to register in advance.

On Friday, Cape Fear Museum, 814 Market St., hosts Creepy Crawlies from 2 to 4 p.m. Participants of all ages can learn all about some native bloodsuckers and see how bugs view the world. They can even make their own insects to take home. The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher will present its Freaky Friends program to visitors from 2 to 3 p.m. Costumes are encouraged (no play weapons or masks on adults). The event is free, and parental participation is required.

Stir up some spirits

Cape Fear Community College Anthropology Club’s fifth annual Ghost Chase and Scavenger Hunt is set for Thursday. The event is a fundraiser for the Wilmington Family YMCA.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. on the third floor of the college’s Union Station Building, 502 N. Front St. Then, at 6 p.m., the hunt is on around downtown.

Kids can take a Halloween-themed trip under the sea at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher's trick or treat event.
Kids can take a Halloween-themed trip under the sea at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s trick or treat event.

Teams of friends or family can work together to solve this year’s conundrum. Local ghosts have stirred in their graves and to help them rest, their stories must be read aloud. But some jealous spirits decide to steal the words right off the page, leaving the tales untold and the restless ghosts on the loose. Would-be paranormal detectives must follow the clues and track down the missing words.

The all-ages event is $10 per person and includes food, goodies bags and prizes.

Poplar Grove Plantation, 10200 U.S. 17 N, takes paranormal enthusiasts on a search for phantoms from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. There are plenty of true stories about the prior tenants of the historic site, the Foys, to keep you shaking in your shoes, including a murderous crime of passion.

Tour guides will share some history , provide a scroll of the dead and allow ghost hunters to bring in their paranormal equipment to focus on certain areas of the house.

Adult tickets are $15. Tour groups are limited to 15 people.

For the grown-ups

The Museum of Nightmares opens up at the Museum of the Bizarre, 201 S. Water St., at 6 p.m. tonight through Saturday. The chilling exhibit features wild special effects by local movie artists, like including Tony Rosen, whose credits include “The Conjuring.” Admission is $20.

Flytrap Brewing, 319 Walnut St., celebrates Halloween with its second annual Sour Beer Smash. The all-day event, which starts at noon on Saturday, will feature Flytrap’s own sour beers, as well as some from guest brewers. Local act D&D Sluggers starts at 8 p.m. and Catch the Food Truck will serve up local street food from 6 to 10 p.m. Awards will be given out to the best and most creative costumes at around 10 p.m.

For the canines

Trulie Dogs, 8258 Market St. Suite 107, hosts its third annual costume contest for dogs at 11 a.m. on Saturday. It’s free to register your pooch and every pup will receive a participation gift.  Prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place winners. To register, call Trulie Dogs during normal business hours at (910) 681-0510.

All donations collected during the event will benefit breast cancer research.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.