Carbondale is legendary for Halloween celebrations, though the present-day revelry doesn’t come even
Carbondale is legendary for Halloween celebrations, though the present-day revelry doesn’t come even close to the huge party in the 1980s when thousands of persons in costumes gathered to celebrate.
In 1989 SIU and the city shut it down. Since then, the city’s nightclubs and surrounding entertainment venues have held unofficial celebrations and parties the weekend before Halloween, and sometimes the weekend afterward. This year, several bars got a jump on things and held costume parties and contests last weekend. Tons of Halloween activities will continue the next two weeks.
Last year, however, for the first time in years, the Carbondale City Council voted to allow nightclubs on the Strip to open for Halloween weekend. As frequently predicted in these pages, all went well, and the experiment continues in 2014. If everyone has a good but safe time, Carbondale could well start to reestablish a wonderful tradition. Good behavior is absolutely essential to turn this two-year experiment into an ongoing policy. Please be responsible, and encourage friends and peers to do the same.
Meanwhile, though Carbondale is destination number one for many Halloween activities, the spirit seizes the entire region, as this article proves.
So there’s always a lot going on in Southern Illinois in celebration of Halloween, some of it for children, some for adults, some fun, and plenty of it scary. If you dare, read on here— and online for more, and next week for continuing coverage— for a taste of the tricks and treats of the season.
The original trappings of the Halloween holiday that remain are largely stripped of their religious meanings.
Most pagans refer to Halloween as Samhain— pronounced Sow-en. It is the third harvest celebration on the pagan calendar, as well as the last day of the pagan year— a time when the veil between the living and dead is at its most thin. All Hallows Eve is a time to settle old debts, remember those who passed on, give thanks for good fortune, and have fun. It’s similar to the Day of the Dead in Hispanic cultures, more about which in a moment.
Locally, the Southern Illinois Pagan Alliance holds a traditional Samhain ritual Saturday, October 25 at 4 p.m. at Lake Murphysboro State Park overflow area. Participants should bring a dish for a potluck dinner, offerings for the dead (photos, urns, favorite items to help honor, represent, and remember ancestors), a carved pumpkin and candle, and tiki torches. Participants should also bring a donation of pet supplies, which the Pagan Alliance will donate to two no-kill shelters, Wright-way Rescue and Cache Creek Animal Rescue. For more information, visit <http://www.SIPaganAlliance.com>.
SIU students who want to make their own Halloween costumes can set up appointments with a Student Center Craft Shop expert at (618) 453-3636 to learn sewing basics. Individual rates are $12 for thirty minutes, but the price per person drops substantially for group lessons. Those who already sew can rent a machine for a nominal fee. For more information, visit <http://StudentCenter.siu.edu> and click on the link to the Craft Shop.
The SIU Department of Theater sells off its surplus at the annual Big Halloween Costume and Prop Sale, which this year takes place Saturday, October 25 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Communications Building’s McLeod Theater lobby and loading dock. It’s a chance to buy custom-made, high-quality costumes, props, set pieces, and other items— perfect for costume parties, haunted houses, and other Halloween activities. Not all the attire is Halloween-y, either— some is great for daily wear. The sale is open to the public. All items are cash only. For more information, call costume shop manager Caitlin Entwistle at (618) 453-7592 or publicist Vincent Rhomberg at (618) 453-7589.
Popup stores like Spirit, on East Main Street, not only carry a large assortment of costumes, but Halloween decorations, party favors, props, and animatronic frights.
Decidedly more graphic apparel is available at the Lion’s Den Adult Superstore, south of Marion.
Those who want to design something with more originality but remain on a budget should consider hitting Carbondale’s myriad used, vintage, and thrift stores: Tropicana Vintage Clothing, Jane’s Consignment, the Church Women United Thrift Shop, and Goodwill Industries. In addition, most local salons will do the doo in appropriately frightening fashion.
For those looking for a more functional outfit— you know, for a real zombie apocalypse— there’s Top Outfitters in Johnston City. The military-surplus store has a ton of great gear that would make for fine Halloween outfits, not to mention general outdoor equipment.
A Trunk ‘r Treat— basically a trick-or-treat tailgate festival— will take place Thursday, October 30 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson. Costumed youth can wander from vehicle to vehicle in search of Halloween candy, enjoy some actual food, and listen to music by the Life Church band.
The Carbondale Police Department always needs help keeping trick-or-treating safe in the city. Those who want to join the long-running Pumpkin Patrol safety program should contact Sergeant Corey Kemp at (618) 457-3200 ext. 454 or <mailto:email@example.com>.
Haunting Music, Movies, Theater, Parties, Festivals, and Games
SIU English professor Tony Williams is Night of the Living Dead director George Romero’s biographer, making all this region’s zombie-related activities either eerily appropriate or an incredibly creepy coincidence. Either way, a zombie horde will begin to assemble Saturday, October 25 at noon at the Gaia House Interfaith Center, where makeup artists will help living participants transform into living-dead brain-eaters. The Zombie Walk itself begins at 4 p.m. Registration is $10, for which participants will get a free zombie makeover, discounts at participating local businesses, a chance to win prizes (including Fat Patties burger bucks), and all the human flesh they can consume along the way.
Look for a zombie pub crawl or some sort of afterparty to follow the walk.
Zombies should bring two canned or boxed goods for donation to a local food pantry. A portion of the entry fee will benefit WDBX.
While the Zombie Walk is open to all ages, some of the zombies may overly frighten young children, and the afterparty may have bar entry-age restrictions.
To register for the Zombie Walk, visit <http://CarbondaleZombieWalk.weebly.com> or stop in at the Carbondale Zombie Walk Facebook page.
For those more interested in wasting zombies than becoming them, Tag U.R. Hit offers the chance to play a special Halloween version of lasertag through October on the third floor of the Carbondale Elks Club. Zombies are also welcome to participate, however, and those ages thirteen and older are welcome to create or join team competitions (though parents must sign waivers for minors). For rates and more information, visit <http://www.TagURHit.com>.
Every year art students in the SIU glass program, Southern Glass Works, make gourds for the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch sale, which this year takes place Saturday, October 25 at 9 a.m. in the Carbondale Town Square.
The incredibly beautiful pumpkins range in price from $10 to $100 or more. Students spend months growing them. With a little care, they can easily outlast the farmed variety.
The sale is the glass program’s major fundraiser. Proceeds help buy materials and bring visiting artists to campus. The sale runs while supplies last.
Meanwhile, artist and SIU alum Tim Shepherd will sell his blown-glass pumpkins across the street Saturday, October 25 at 10 a.m. at Dayshift Boutique. Shepherd’s work comes in all sizes, colors— some of the pumpkins are more traditional in form and design, others have beautiful psychedelic swirls rolling through them— and price ranges. Search for photos of his work on Pinterest. Dayshift only sells one-of-a-kind items, so customers should buy up anything they like, because when items sell they cannot be restocked.
Saint Francis Community Animal Rescue and Education will host the Howl-o-ween Pet Costume Contest and Photo Spooktacular Saturday, October 25 at 10 a.m. at the Carbondale PetCo. The event offers prizes for costumed pets in various categories, and people may dress up with their pets for framed digital photos.
For more information, call (618) 529-5249.
Those who want to put on overalls and cowboy hats for a good cause can attend the Halloween Hoedown Sunday, October 26 at 5 p.m. at the Marion Elks Lodge. The fundraising dinner and auction will benefit Specialized Equine Services, a local not-for-profit organization that offers therapeutic horseback rides for people with mental and physical disorders. Reserve tickets, which cost $20, by calling Giant City Stables at (618) 529-4110.
Student ensembles, including the Rend Lake Community Orchestra, Concert Band, and Concert Choir, will play a Halloween show Thursday, October 30 at 6 p.m. at Rend Lake College. Selections have generally come from Corpse Bride, Phantom of the Opera, and the Harry Potter films, plus tunes like “Thriller.” A costume party and contest will follow at 7 p.m.
For those want even more Halloween chills, the Rend Lake College thespians will present a stage adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame— a nonmusical version based on the Victor Hugo novel and not Disney’s various renditions— Thursday through Saturday, November 6 through November 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, November 9 at 2 p.m.
For more information, visit <http://www.rlc.edu>.
The transsexual Transylvanian parties, gorgeous gals, thrills and chills, and lotsa larfs and sex come to unlife when Skyline Creek Productions presents Richard O’Brien’s classic musical The Rocky Horror Show. This live-action version takes place Thursday and Friday, October 30 and 31 at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. Shows run at 7 p.m. and, as Gawd intended, midnight. For tickets, call the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office at (618) 997-4030 or visit <http://www.MarionCCC.org>. Search for the event at <http://www.RockyShows.net> for more information. It’s just a jump to the left...
The SIU Student Programming Council will screen Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare on Elm Street Thursday through Saturday, October 23 through October 25 at the Student Center Auditorium. Don’t fall asleep and let Freddy Krueger invade your dreams...
Haunted Houses, Trails, Mazes, and Tours
Long ago, evil spirits took over Wakefield Prison, right off Route 148 in Herrin. There, spirits of evil inmates and sadistic guards roamed the dark cells and narrow hallways, transforming it into the Cell Block Haunted House. And this year, haunted hayrides will take place at terrifying nearby Ravenwood Hollows.
Ray Elam’s Slaughterhouse Productions created both Wakefield Prison and Ravenwood Hollows, which operate Fridays through Sundays in Herrin. Every year— in fact, throughout the month— Elam and company revise the haunts to fine-tune and simply change the experience. The prison, for example, contains modules that can move around or switch out, so no two tours are exactly alike. The whole place is wired for surround sound, and the effects consume a six-figure budget. Elam’s philosophy: When people are inside the haunt and you hear them screaming, and when they come out, if they’re laughing, that’s when he knows he’s done his job.
For rates, detailed schedules, and more information, visit <http://cellblock666.com>.
Since 2005, The Haunting of Chittyville School has scared the Chitt out of patrons, and its ghastly inhabitants are preparing to do so again. The haunt will run in October Fridays through Sundays through November 1, plus Sunday, October 26 and Thursday, October 30.
According to legend, the school, north of downtown Herrin, is built on an old graveyard. Ghosts began to appear to the students and faculty, and a custodian once disappeared into the basement... never to return.
Chittyville is divided into three sections: The Haunting of Chittyville School, the main attraction, and The Lair, a short but very intense experience that only runs when weather permits. Then there’s Spooky Town, a toned-down, age-appropriate area (think Scooby-doo) to groom younger kids as the next generation of customers for the more mature horrors they can encounter when they grow up.
Usually, there’s enough light to see the intricately costumed actors and carefully constructed sets, but this doesn’t apply to the total-blackout nights, which run from October 30 through November 1, when patrons receive only glowsticks to light their way.
For directions, a detailed account of the haunting, and ticket information, visit <http://www.chittyville.com> or call (618) 942-6111.
Big Muddy Monster Hayrides will take place October 23, 24, and 25 at Riverside Park in Murphysboro. Visitors will ride on haywagons through the woods down by the Big Muddy River. Along the way they’ll encounter a number of spooky sights, including an old black coach with some frightening inhabitants, chainsaw maniacs, a headless horseman, and the Big Muddy Monster himself. Folks will also be treated to a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
There will also be a haunted house, complete with bats and vampires, a psycho hospital patient, an electric chair, and a werewolf.
A concession stand will be open.
Tickets are $6 (with $1 off for those who bring a nonperishable food item for donation to a local food pantry) and free for children younger than four. Tickets will presell for $5 at the Murphysboro Kroger.
For more information, call Mary Kay Campbell at (618) 559-6989, or search for the Big Muddy Monster Haunted Hayrides on Facebook.
Experts in local paranormal activity and hauntings will combine forces in 2014— Scott Thorne of Castle Perilous Books and Games and Bruce Cline of the Little Egypt Ghost Society and Big Muddy Tours. Thorne has collected local legends and ghost stories for years, many of which he details on his Carbondale Gazette blog. Cline has authored a series of nearly sold-out books, History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois.
Past tours have offered information about the Carbondale Anomaly Corridor, the Illinois Central Railroad Death Vortex, and hauntings at Hundley House, the D.C.I Biologicals building, Oakland and Woodlawn Cemeteries, Shryock Auditorium, the recently demolished Sunset Haven, and other locations. Participants will also learn how to photograph and record spirits and ghosts.
Walking tours will depart every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. from Castle Perilous. The tours are $15. Call or stop by the store to make reservations, and dress for the weather.
Meanwhile, Big Muddy Tours will hold their first-ever bus tour Tuesday, October 28, which will take participants all over Southern Illinois.
For more information, search for Big Muddy Tours and the Little Egypt Ghost Society on Facebook.
In addition, Castle Perilous will celebrate Halloween Comicfest Saturday, October 25. Those who stop in the store can get meet the So Ill Roller Girls and grab a free comic book and a piece of trick-or-treat candy (two of each if they come in costume!). Those who stop in between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. can enjoy a game of Munchkin Zombies. The Castle is also a stop on the Carbondale Zombie Walk.
A Halloween party will take place Sunday, October 26 at 5 p.m. at Castle Perilous, complete with furry visitors from the Jackson County Humane Society. The store will have candy for trick-or-treaters Friday, October 31 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For details, call the Castle at (618) 529-5317 or visit <http://www.CastlePerilous.com>.
The full, nuanced, but absolutely true and horrifying tale is far too complicated to tell in this space, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: In 1922 striking coal miners erupted when an out-of-town owner, W.J. Lester, brought in scab labor to work his mine. Union miners rounded up, paraded around, beat, and shot onsite management and scabs. Twenty-one died, with many unceremoniously buried (some still alive) in unmarked graves. It was dubbed the Herrin Massacre.
On Saturday, October 25, three tours (at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.) will head out to the sites where the Herrin Massacre transpired. Admission is $25.
Organizer Amy Erikson will schedule private Herrin Massacre tours as well at (618) 751-2924. The cost varies— it’s less when groups provide their own transportation and more if the tour company needs to book a bus, for example. Erikson says the best group size ranges from fifteen to forty. Those who don’t have a large group can keep an eye on the website for public tours, which come about once a month (though past tours have sold out fast). For more information, visit <http://www.HerrinMassacreTour.com>.
The Anna Arts Center will hold a series of Halloween activities, starting with the Fire Station of Horrors Haunted House, which runs Fridays and Saturdays in October and November 1 at 7 p.m. in an abandoned fire station. There demons and ghouls will chase participants through a maze.
Children and the faint at heart can stay in the waiting room and make Halloween crafts. Admission is $5, or $20 per group of six or more, and proceeds will benefit maintenance and renovations of the Anna Arts Center buildings.
Find out more at <http://AnnaArtCenter.com>, or contact Norma Lee Hackney at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> or (904) 625-1109.
The Carterville Lions will hold a haunted hayride October 23, 24, and 25 at 7 p.m., starting at James Street Park in Carterville. Visitors will ride on hay wagons to the Haunted Railroad Bed, where they will encounter ghouls, goblins, and ghosts.
Admission is $4. This event is appropriate for children.
For more information, visit <http://CartervilleLionsClub.webs.com> or call the Carterville Chamber of Commerce at (618) 985-6942.
Those whose corpses end up as animal feed during tours of the Dickey Family Haunted Barn, which opens outside Harrisburg every Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in October, need to know they gave their lives for a great cause.
Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children thirteen and younger, and T-shirts are $12. Proceeds will benefit the Fowler-Bonan Foundation, which provides new clothes to low-income schoolchildren, as well as Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital and other charities.
For directions and more information, search for Haunted Barn 2014 on Facebook.
Every year, Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch, a half mile west of Johnston City on Pumpkin Patch Road just off Herrin/Colp Road, cuts mazes through a cornfield in local thematic shapes— an Egyptian pharaoh, John A. Logan, the Southern Illinois Miners’ baseball-team logo, or the Girl Scouts.
With important gubernatorial, state representative, U.S. Congress, and other elections in November, this year’s maze exhorts citizens to vote.
The maze’s path winds through about three miles of corn, and takes at least an hour to walk.
In addition, Bandy’s offers a play barn for younger children, hayrides, and pumpkins galore. Group tours of the pumpkin patch and hayrides through the farm are available by appointment. The maze is open every day through October 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For rates and more information, call (618) 983-8676 or visit <http://www.BandysPumpkinPatch.com>.
The annual Monster Bash Costume Party roars to unlife Saturday, October 25 at 7 p.m. at Walker’s Bluff. Those in costume may dance to a DJ and compete for cash prizes that can reach the $150 range. A portion of the $10 cover, meanwhile, will benefit Myranda’s Child and Family Foundation, which helps local families in need.
Owl Creek Vineyard and Apple Knocker Hard Ciders will hold the first Punkie Night Bash Saturday, October 25 at 6:30 p.m. Owl Creek will have a special pumpkin cider on sale throughout the event— hence its name— while totally bluegrass supergroup the Ol’ Fishskins pick. The costume contest prizes include a Punkie Night Hard Cider hoodie for best costume, an Apple Knocker Hard Cider growler for scariest costume, and a choice of Owl Creek T-shirts for most original costume. There’s no cover for the event, but it’s only open to those twenty-one and older.
Blue Sky Vineyard and Winery will hold a Halloween Bash Sunday, October 26 at 2 p.m. Artists will display and sell their work, a tarot reader will channel advice from the spirits, and Mister Twist the Balloon Man will create all kinds of inflatable sculptures for kids of all ages. Classic rock band the Natives will provide live entertainment. A costume contest takes place at 5 p.m.; first prize is a one-night stay in the Tuscan Suite, while second prize is a $50 Blue Sky gift certificate. In addition, the winery usually vints a special Witches’ Brew for the event.
The Upstage Production Company will present a murder-mystery dinner theater show, Murder at the Haunted Winery, Thursday, October 30 at the expanded Alto Vineyards and Winery banquet hall. Whodunnit? Attend and enjoy a three-course dinner while helping to solve the homicide! Reservations are $50. Meanwhile, those who stop by in costume from October 31 to November 2 will receive a free Alto Vineyards poster.
One-man jam band Jaik Willis will play the Halloween Extravaganza Thursday, October 30 at the Hangar 9.
Where it started, nobody knows, although Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are probably as good a guess as any, but the devil seems to love his heavy metal.
Actually, it’s the other way around— heavy metal loves Mephistopheles, though the affection may not be reciprocated. The late huckster who founded the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey, once told Rolling Stone that the devil his bad self prefers old-time circus tunes and pop music, preferably on the calliope and organ, both instruments of which LaVey himself was not incidentally once a master. Perhaps the Great Scam Artist’s assessment came from recognizing a good marketing ruse when he saw one— the supposed satanic connections to most metal acts constitute little more than the same free-publicity-generating shock value LaVey often employed all the way to the bank.
Getting back on track, if Halloween is Satan’s holiday— a belief that most pagans would with good reason dispute— then LaVey be damned (as it were). What better way to celebrate than by having a headbanging good time?
And what Carbondale band better represents the spirit of the season than the Raw Flesh Eaters, a heavy-metal splatter-rock outfit in the tradition of the Misfits, Gwar, and Black Sabbath? They will play an extra spooky Halloween show Thursday, October 30 at PK’s, where a new Raw Flesh Eaters CD will make its horrifying debut. “[W]e would like to warn people that this show will not be for the squeamish,” guitarist Tim Whiteford told Nightlife about a previous Halloween show. “If you are easily disgusted or offended, this show is not for you. However if you are sick in the head, then there will be more than enough blood, guts, and human remains for everyone. Come join in on the massacre— if you dare!”