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Kids Picks: A Few Favorite Halloween Haunts
By Dodie Hamblen
Pumpkins and scarecrows are popping up on doorsteps throughout the neighborhood. Fall is here, and children of all ages will want to kick off this month's harvest festivities with a free, old-fashioned hayride down 24th Street, sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.
The horse-drawn hay wagon will board in front of Walgreens at Castro and 24th, on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Passengers will go for a slow roll down 24th Street to Vicksburg, south on Vicksburg to Jersey, then back to Castro.
"Neighborhood merchants will have sidewalk sales on that day. Local businesses will donate refreshments, and free fingerprinting kits will be handed out to parents of young children in an effort to raise child safety awareness," says the event's committee chair, Michael Glazer, of All State Insurance. For more information, call Glazer at 642-6569.
The Upper Noe Recreation Center, at the corner of Day and Sanchez streets, will be buzzing with activity throughout Halloween week. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, the Rec Center will kick off its Halloween festivities with a party for Kids' Gym participants (ages 1 to 3) during the regular Kids' Gym time, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Refreshments, music, and Beanie Babies will abound. "Don't forget to wear a costume!" says Upper Noe Rec Center director Chris Borg.
On Halloween morning, tots can celebrate at a second Kids' Gym party from 10:30 a.m. to noon. And the Rec Center invites neighborhood kids, 5 and up, to come on over for yet another party from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The Rec Center lobby will be decorated as a "haunted but not scary" cemetery, says Borg, and there'll be free carnival games and treats for all.
Hobnobbing hobgoblins will find plenty of other opportunities for Halloween fun in and around the neighborhood. Here are a few more activities for your little demons to choose from:
Scariest Costume Contest. Witches, ghosts, and fairy princesses can parade down to Real Food Company, 3939 24th St., to enter the store's third annual Halloween Costume Contest. Kids 12 and under can stop by the store any time on Halloween to have their photo taken and get a healthy treat. A grocery bag of goodies from the store will be awarded to winners in each of three categories: funniest, scariest, and most original. Winners will be announced the following week.
"We have a lot of fun with this," says store manager Beth Saunders. "Last year we had about 50 entries. The best part is that everybody gets their photo put up in the store window."
Spookiest Window Display. Trick-or-treaters who want to see the spookiest window in the neighborhood should stop by the One Stop Party Shop, at Church and 28th streets, on Halloween Day. Owner Marty Van Dervort and staff will be stirring their cauldron and handing out treats until 9 p.m.
Eeriest Haunted House. Noe Valley's "Haunted House Lady" Marilyn Anne Lucas will be raising spirits once again with her 18th annual Haunted House. "Come and find out what they didn't teach you in California history class," Lucas says. "This year we will chill you with the Gold Rush tale of the Donner Party," authenticated, she adds, by the contents of an old and rare book signed by the last surviving Donner Party member.
Located on Hoffman between 24th and Elizabeth streets, the Lucas Haunted House will reveal its tales of terror from 5 to 8 p.m. The first 300 visitors brave enough to enter will receive a treat bag.
"The children and I have a woooooonderful time!" Lucas cackles. She attributes the success of her yearly endeavor to the support she receives from friends, neighbors, and cadavers. Those interested in helping out can give her a call at Lucas Realty, 285-6265.
Creepiest Festival. The Randall Museum's annual Halloween Fest, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., offers creepy crafts, ghoulish games, and other fun for the whole family. Visit, if you dare, Dr. Randallstein's Laboratory, the Bone Room, and the Animals of the Night exhibit. Storytelling, face painting, pumpkin carving, and a live musical performance round out the activities. Admission is free, and most activities cost 50 cents to $1. Hot food will be available.
The Randall Museum is located at 199 Museum Way. Call 554-9600 for more information. And don't forget to wear a costume! Have a safe and happy Halloween