Family-friendly fright for Halloween

Halloween activities for all ages abound on the Midpeninsula

If you'd rather dress up like Buzz Lightyear than Charlie Sheen, the Midpeninsula is a good place to spend your Halloween. Family-friendly options abound, many of them free.

Here are some of the local options, including spooky music, trick-or-treating and puppet shows.

Landels Elementary School in Mountain View is opening up its annual haunted house to the public for the first time this year, from 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, 30 and 31. The event promises low-key, kid-friendly spookiness and treats in the community room, 115 W. Dana St. Admission is $3 or $10 for a family of four. Go to

The city of Menlo Park hosts its free annual "Halloween Hoopla" on Oct. 29, with a parade starting at 11:45 a.m. in the Alma Street parking lot at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center. Marching ghosts and goblins end up downtown to trick-or-treat at participating stores with signs on their doors, or to do crafts and watch a magic show in Fremont Park at Santa Cruz Avenue and University Drive. Go to or call 650-330-2200.

The DC Cemetery draws a crowd each Halloween to its intricate and spooky animatronics show at the corner of Bush and Yosemite streets in downtown Mountain View. New this year: a coffin that opens with a skeleton jumping out. It's open Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, starting at 6 p.m. every night. "Child-friendly" hours are from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, with softer volumes and creatures moving more slowly. Go to for more.

Mountain View does the "Monster Bash" with its free family happening from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Mountain View Community Center and Rengstorff Park at 201 S. Rengstorff Ave. Activities include crafts, games and a showing of the 2011 Disney movie "Mars Needs Moms." Go to or call 650-903-6408.

The Bay Area Country Dance Society holds its 31st annual Hallowe'en Costume Ball from 8 p.m. to midnight Oct. 29 at the First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. Guests, many wearing "danceable" costumes, will do contra dancing and waltzes to the music of The Retrospectacles. Tickets are $14 general, $12 for members and $7 for students. Go to

"Spooky Times at Deer Holloween Farm" takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 29, with "haunted barns," kids' activities and crafts, and costumes. Deer Hollow Farm is in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve near Mountain View; admission is $7 per person ($5 for those in costume) and free for youngsters under 1. Go to

On Oct. 30, the city of Palo Alto marks Day of the Dead from 1 to 5 p.m. with performances, art activities, music, food and storytelling at several locations: the Lucie Stern Community Center at 1305 Middlefield Road, the Children's Library at 1276 Harriet St. and the Junior Museum & Zoo, 1451 Middlefield Road. Go to

Little witches and ghouls can shriek at a haunted house and giggle at a puppet show on Oct. 30 at Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto. The event runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., intended for kids ages 4 to 10. Admission is $15 general and $10 for members. Go to or call 650-329-1356, ext. 201.

Forty-some businesses on Palo Alto's California Avenue host trick-or-treating and a carnival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 30. Orange signs designate those taking part. At the carnival between Ash and Birch streets, tickets are $1 each for games, a raffle and other activities. Go to

The Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Wind Ensemble take the Dinkelspiel Auditorium stage on campus on Oct. 31 for the annual Halloween Concert at 8 p.m. Music by Bach, Berlioz, Andrew Lloyd Webber and others might not be scary, but guest-conducting the concert finale could be good for audience members with stage fright. The winner of the costume contest takes the baton. Concert tickets are $10 general and $5 for students. Go to

Pipe organist James Welch also puts on a Halloween show each year; this time, the theme is "Bach-y Horror Show." The 8 p.m. concert happens at St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 600 Colorado Ave. in Palo Alto. Costumes are plentiful, and a $10 donation is requested at the door. Welch's sons, Nicholas and Jameson, will join him in the program, which includes music by Bach, Beethoven and Rimsky-Korsakov. Go to or call 650-856-9700.

The Lytton Gardens senior community is again holding its "Safe Halloween" event, with trick-or-treating, face painting, refreshments and games for kids. The free event goes from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at 656 Lytton Ave. in Palo Alto. Go to or call 650-328-3300.

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