Halloween, Day of the Dead Events in The Parks
Halloween and Day of the Dead traditions continue in the Milwaukee County Parks.
MILWAUKEE – From nature-themed hiking events to glowing jack-o’-lantern displays or colorful altars and parades, Halloween and Day of the Dead traditions continue in the Milwaukee County Parks.
29th Annual “Halloween Haunts” at Wehr Nature Center in Whitnall Park
Pre-Event Decorating: Oct 15, from 4–6 p.m.
All creative types are invited to fill the center with streamers, spider webs, and other holiday decorations.
Pre-Event Pumpkin Carving: Oct. 18, from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. (or until all pumpkins are carved)
The public is welcome to carve truckloads of pumpkins for the jack-o’-lantern-lit trail to “The Enchanted Forrest.” (All pumpkins are used for the trail.)
Halloween Haunts: Oct. 19–21, timed-entry tickets from 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Costumed guides will lead a humorous, educational and slightly spooky trek along a jack-o’-lantern-lit trail. During the event designed for families with children age 4–10, characters (such as the wise-cracking Mr. Bones, Bobbie the Builder Beaver, Charlotte the Spider) will talk about the connection between humans and nature’s misunderstood Halloween creatures. Advance ticket purchase is required for this timed-entry event. Ticket prices are $10 for non-Milwaukee County Residents and $7 for Milwaukee County Residents and members of Friends of Wehr.
The daytime version of the popular event is designed especially for very young children, those who would like an accessible route, or those who prefer daytime activities. Visitors will follow the accessible boardwalk through the Wetland Wonderland, where they’ll meet costumed characters. In the Visitors Center, guests will enjoy making a simple Halloween craft and visiting with Wehr’s animal ambassadors. Admission is $5 per person; children age one and under are admitted free. Pre-registration is required for groups; individuals and families pay at the door. Accommodation requests should be made at least 72 hours in advance by calling the Nature Center or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nature Center is located at 9701 W. College Ave. Information and tickets are available by calling the Nature Center at 414-425-8550.
“Trek ’n Treat” at Grant Park
Oct. 15, from 1–4 p.m., Friends of Grant Park invites families to “view the haunts of nature” on an educational trek along the Seven Bridges Trail. The event begins at Picnic Area 5 in Grant Park. A shorter wheelchair-accessible route is also available. About 20 stations in the park will give participants, with or without costumes, the opportunity to answer nature-related questions in exchange for treats. Pumpkins (and pumpkin painting) as well as cider and popcorn will be available for purchase in the pavilion. Also in the pavilion will be information on birds, trees, and animal furs. General admission is $2. Grant Park is located at 100 E Hawthorne Ave., in South Milwaukee. For more information, visit fogp.org.
Lions Club “Pumpkin Fest” at Hales Corners Park
Oct. 20 and 21, from 2–8 p.m., free pumpkins will be available for children and families to carve for display. Jack-o’-lanterns will be lit both nights after dusk for all to enjoy. Judging will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in three age categories as well as a category for families. After the judging, participants can take their pumpkins home. Kids’ activities will be available throughout the event. Candied apples, apple cider, and popcorn will be available for purchase. A raffle is also offered. Hales Corners Park is located at 5765 S. New Berlin Road. For more information, visit e-clubhouse.org/sites/halescorners/.
“Pumpkin Pavilion” at Humboldt Park
Pre-Event Pumpkin Carving: Oct. 18 and 19, from 5–9 p.m.
The public is invited to carve more than 800 pumpkins for the Pumpkin Pavilion. Pumpkins are provided and will become part of the display. Pumpkins must not be removed from the event.
The Halloween event is set to glow Oct. 20 and 21, from 6–10 p.m. In addition to the Pumpkin Pavilion (with its Grand Lighting at 7 p.m. Oct. 20), the event includes nightly music, magic shows, and fire performances. Hay rides are available for $5 per person. Guests are encouraged to come in costume.
Back again this year is the Great Pumpkin Chase, a ¼-mile run for kids and a 5K for “big kids.” Registration begins Oct. 21 at 3 p.m., with the kids’ run at 4 p.m., and the 5K at 4:30 p.m.
Volunteers are needed for two-hour shifts from Oct. 18–22. Activities include event preparation, pumpkin carving, and tepee construction, as well as help with the hay rides, the Great Pumpkin Chase, and more.
Humboldt Park is located at 3000 S. Howell Ave. For more information, including online volunteer-signup, visit bayviewneighborhood.org/pumpkinpavilion.
“Pumpkins in the Park” at Pulaski-Cudahy Park
Oct 21, from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Friends of Pulaski-Cudahy Park will have free treats for the kids at the park’s pavilion, decorated for the season. Pumpkins in various sizes will be available for purchase. Also for sale will be a hot dog and chili lunch, served by costumed members of the Friends. Tasty home-made items at the bake sale will make great lunchtime desserts. Pulaski-Cudahy Park is located at 5400 S. Swift Ave. For more information, visit facebook.com/groups/851254978225815.
“Fall Fest” at Center Street Park
Oct 21, from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Friends of Center Street Park will offer a full day of family-friendly activities. The event opens with pumpkin-carving, scarecrow-building, arts and crafts, and games. Event-goers will also see drone demonstrations by Milwaukee Rotorcross. Local food and beverages, from hot dogs and brats, to tacos and gourmet waffles, will be available for purchase. Special treats include caramel apples, hot chocolate, and apple cider. Live music will be performed at noon and 3 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., folks will gather for Pumpkin Chuckin’, a returning smash hit. For more information, visit centerstreetpark.com/fall-fest.
“Halloween in the Park” at Greenfield Park
Oct. 21 from 4–8 p.m., the Community Alliance Against Drugs along with the West Allis Police Department will offer a free costume parade and a variety of family-friendly activities at “scary low” prices. The costume parade begins at 5 p.m., with free treat bags to the first 500 kids (age 12 and under) who come in costume. Activities include hayrides ($1), a campfire with s’mores ($0.50), and cookie decorating ($1). Food will also be available for purchase at “scary low” prices. Members of CAAD receive the hayride and a hot dog, chips, and beverage for free. Memberships will be available at the event and will be good through December 2018. Greenfield Park Picnic Area 3A may be accessed from the Lincoln Avenue entrance, just east of 124th Street. For more information, visit facebook.com/WestAllisCAAD.
Ghosts Under Glass & Dia de los Muertos
Oct. 27, from 6–9 p.m., the Tropical Dome will be transformed into a spooky site for Ghosts Under Glass, while the Desert Dome will become a place to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
Upon entering The Domes, each child will receive a “starter” bag of trick-or-treat candy. Opportunities for more treats will be available as families explore The Domes. Everyone attending is encouraged to come in costume for this family-friendly event. Carnival games with prizes, make-and-take crafts, entertainment by balloon twisters, and a bounce house will offer fun in the Annex.
Unlike the spooky adventure in the Tropical Dome, the stroll through the Desert Dome will be joyful. Colorful decorations and flowers will welcome visitors and departed loved ones to this celebration rooted in Latin American culture. Brightly colored ofrendas, or Day of the Dead altars, will feature the vibrant orange of marigolds. Marigolds are said to guide happy spirits to return to Earth to the ofrendas and festivities prepared for them. Under the moon of the Desert Dome, visitors will see multicolored skulls and light-hearted skeletons. Along the path through the dome, volunteers will offer explanations of the holiday and its symbolism and will hand out Mexican treats.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Zilli Hospitality Group.
Special event admission is $8 per person. Children age 2 and under are admitted free. Membership passes and coupons are not valid for this event. Tickets will be available at the door the night of the event. Advance tickets will be sold at The Domes Gift Shop and online at milwaukeedomes.org/ghosts-under-glass.
Dia de los Muertos MKE (Day of the Dead) at Walkers Square
Oct. 28, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., a variety of activities will celebrate and honor the lives of loved ones who have passed. Activities include a procession, run/walk, art market, and music.
Pre-race registration and face painting begin at 10 a.m. The Dash to the Other Side 5K run/walk starts at noon. Each step of the race is a prayer to honor the dead. Online registration is also available. The first 200 registrants will receive a handmade clay medal. Following the awards ceremony will be a vigil for peace.
At 2 p.m., the public is welcome to take part in a traditional procession. To prepare for the march, everyone is encouraged to bring a framed photo or ofrenda (altar) of a loved one being remembered and to come early to the park for face painting. The photos and oftendas will be carried in the parade.
At 3 p.m. Aztec Danzas will perform traditional dances, and a DJ will spin Latin favorites.
Throughout the event, visitors will enjoy tradition, culture, the Art Market, and the offerings of local food trucks. For more information, visit diadelosmuertosmilwaukee.com.
“Night of the Ghost Train” at Corner Bakery & the Oak Leaf Trail Bridge
Oct. 31, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Night of the Ghost Train will bring together an art installation, a kids’ costume contest, a walk across the “tracks” of a phantom train, and the reading of a winning ghost-train story, for an evening of fun for the family—and train enthusiasts! Corner Bakery, Culvers, and North Shore Bank are the event’s presenting sponsors. The event kicks off at Corner Bakery, 1305 E. Capitol Drive, with a check-in for the costume contest. Bakery sampling, popcorn, and hot beverages will be available for free, while supplies last.
The Ghost Train is an art installation along the Oak Leaf Trail Bridge where it crosses Capitol Drive in the Village of Shorewood. The pedestrian bridge location was a major attraction from the ’30s to the ’60s. People gathered to see the high-speed “400” luxury train of the Chicago & North Western Railway. The “400” took passengers from Chicago to Minneapolis in a mere 400 minutes. The art installation combines lighting, audio, and control technology to transport viewers back in time to experience this historic locomotive similar to the way Shorewood residents did decades ago. The Ghost Train, designed by Marty Peck, runs daily from Sept. 1 to March 31 at 7 p.m. Northbound and 7: 15 p.m. Southbound. (From April 1 to Aug. 31, the schedule is adjusted for longer days, with the train running at 9 p.m. Northbound and 9:15 p.m. Southbound.) For the Night of the Ghost Train event, two additional runs will be added, at 8 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Details on the Halloween event and the contests will be posted at villageofshorewood.org/742/The-Ghost-Train.
Additional Public Halloween & Trick-or-Treating Events in the Milwaukee County Parks
As public events are planned, they will be posted at county.milwaukee.gov/ParksCalendar.
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