Haunted Hall will add to fall fest fun

New attraction joins costume contest, pumpkin decorating and more at annual event

Goblins and ghouls all over Hinsdale are busy putting the finishing touches on their costumes for Hinsdale's annual Family Fall Fest.

Set for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in Robbins Park, South Vine and Seventh streets, the event always includes some stiff competition in the costume contest.

"The costumes are amazing," said Eva Field, president and CEO of the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce.

Check in at the chamber of commerce table from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to be entered in the contest. Winners will receive prizes donated by local businesses.

Jim Slonoff of The Hinsdalean will once again take free portraits of every willing witch, ghost and monster from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The chamber and its member businesses work in cooperation with the Hinsdale Park and Recreation Department, the Hinsdale Public Library and a handful of other local organizations to host this Halloween-themed event each year. The Hinsdale Historical Society also stepped in as a partner this year, offering up its Immanuel Hall as an added attraction.

"It's really a cooperative effort," said Sammy Hanzel, recreation and marketing communications manager at the Hinsdale Parks and Recreation Department.

Hanzel said the first 500 attendees will receive a free pumpkin, along with decorations to turn their gourd into a personal work of art. There will be other crafts available, too.

An inflatable obstacle course and roaming entertainers will add to the fun. The Hinsdale Public Library has hired balloon artists to create on-the-go balloon sculptures and creatures for guests

throughout the event.

For children who like a quieter kind of fun, activity bags are available for use during the festival. Each contains crafts and games for kids to enjoy.

Everyone is invited to visit the many sponsor tables, each of which will be offering treats and giveaways.

Of course, all of this fun is sure to work up an appetite. Wally's Waffles will be on hand with a variety of sweet and savory choices to satisfy even the most ravenous little monsters. Hanzel said guests also can find plenty of food choices while trick or treating downtown.

"We encourage people, as they're trick or treating downtown, to visit some of our local restaurants," she said.

Participating merchants in the downtown business district will distribute treats from noon to 3 p.m.

Carrie Rozich, president of the Hinsdale Historical Society, hopes many will make a stop along the way at Immanuel Hall. With the help of artist Molly Haworth of Hinsdale, the former church building at 302 S. Grant St. has been transformed into a family-friendly haunted hall. The hall will be open to visitors from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

A big fan of Halloween, Haworth used her own decorations - and her experience as an artist and window designer for Marshall Field's - to turn the chapel into a Halloween attraction.

Rozich said she hopes the haunted hall will draw attention to the property, which is owned by the historical society and available for event rentals.

With the exception of food purchases, the entire Family Fall Fest is free. And while most guests typically arrive in costume, non-costumed admirers are welcome.

"People really go all out," Hanzel said, making the event, and the costume contest, fun for participants and onlookers alike.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean