Depending on your age, Halloween demands a certain kind of celebration. If you’re over 30 and therefore too old to have fun, the holiday is all about making sure you don’t run out of little Twix bars for the trick-or-treaters for fear of getting your house egged. If you’re still young and cool, it’s all about drinking beer and pretending you’re not tired of listening to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” And if you’re a little kid, it’s all about enjoying wholesome fun with your parents and not getting so scared that you wind up ruining your Paw Patrol pajamas later that evening. Here are some good, clean, and local Halloween celebrations that you can take the kids to.
Fort Lincoln’s Halloween Kids Bash
4480 Fort Lincoln Rd, Mandan
The regular Haunted Fort attraction is a little too bold and bloody for a youngster’s sensibilities. That’s why Fort Lincoln also throws their Halloween Kids Bash, which features a subtler, more PG tour of the Custer Mansion. The gorier decorations are all covered up, and a more genial butler explains to children that the spirits are really more afraid of them than the other way around. (It’s bear rules.) After the tour kids can get to work at the carnival games, including the classic where you ruin a perfectly nice can pyramid with a baseball. Big yard inflatables provide photo opportunities, and Roscoe, the park’s mascot, will be there to keep children believing in giant upright walking raccoons. So as to prevent you from having to drive home a child who is still frenetic with chocolate, the event also features the Little Monsters Hike, a one and a half mile romp through the scenery. Spooks and goblins will pop out along the way, but they’re exceptionally well-behaved spooks and goblins. Visit hauntedfort.com for this year’s date.
Trunk or Treat
3200 N 11th St, Bismarck
Want to take your rug rat out trick-or-treating, but don’t want cars to enter into the equation? Well, cars are still a major part of the festivities at Trunk or Treat, although they’re not of the moving and therefore far more dangerous variety. Graciously hosted by New Song Church, this celebration features at least two dozen trunks that members of the congregation have decorated to become little fantasy worlds. It is run by Krista Erickson and Jenna Erickson, who have won awards at prior events with their Egyptian and prison themed car trunks. It is always good to have an authority in charge of things. Over 2,000 people will visit Trunk or Treat on Halloween from 5 to 8pm to enjoy copious candy, face painting, and carnival games including the fishing pond, the cake walk, and bean bag toss. They will treat you to dinner at Trunk or Treat, and if you’re like me and prefer to pray after you eat (I do so out of necessity whenever I cook for myself), then you can stop by the church’s prayer tent afterward.
Papa’s Pumpkin Patch
5001 Fernwood Dr, Bismarck
This is where you take little Mason and Emma when you really want to knock their socks off. Forty acres of Papa’s Pumpkin Patch are devoted solely to playspace for kids. Every year Papa orders himself over 1,000 hay bales to stack into giant structures for boys and girls to clamber around on like over-caffeinated howler monkeys. There are slides, swings, zip lines, pony rides, and even a pit of corn where kids can hop in and pretend to be butter pats. Papa also owns an impressive air cannon that can launch a pumpkin into low orbit, as well as a trebuchet in case Minnesotans invade. The devices are demonstrated every half hour. True to its name, Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is also the end-all resource for festive holiday gourds. There are even 100 pounders for sale there — they make for impressive jack-o’-lanterns, and if you haven’t yet seen the look on a pocket dog’s face when he is lowered into a giant pumpkin, then you haven’t lived. Visit papaspumpkinpatch.com for this year’s dates and hours.
By David Scheller