Ready to get spooked? In a nice way, that is.
Halloween events in the Palo Alto area tend to be more friendly than frightening, and always festive. Even man's best friend gets in on the act, with more than one costume event planned for dogs.
Read on for a sampling of what's doing on the Midpeninsula this Halloween:
Gamble Garden is setting the stage for its annual Halloween puppet show at 1431 Waverley St. at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25. This year's story is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," put on by Paul Dukas. Costumes, crafts and snacks are also part of the evening. The cost is $15 general and $10 for members, with pre-registration required at gamblegarden.org (tickets often sell out).
Webb Ranch near Menlo Park has a gala pumpkin patch going through Oct. 31, with a haunted house and a bouncy house, as well as pony rides, hay rides and a petting zoo on weekends. It's located on Alpine Road just off Highway 280. Go to webranchinc.com.
Through the end of October, Mountain View's Shoreline Lake is hosting a pumpkin patch by the water to go with its more typical activities of pedal-boating and kayaking. The neighboring Lakeside Cafe at 3160 N. Shoreline Blvd. has ongoing pumpkin-carving, too. Go to shorelinelake.com.
Halloween is celebrated Oct. 25 and 26 at the venerable Rengstorff House, where "History Meets Haunting" means the mansion gets dressed up in its spooky finest and brave visitors take nighttime tours from historians (first tour at 7:30, last one at 10). Also on Oct. 25 and 26, kids' crafts and games will be part of Halloween parties from noon to 4 p.m., with costume parades at 2. Go to r-house.org or call 650-903-6392.
The Witches Delight Halloween Carnival is a tradition at Santa Rita Elementary School in Los Altos now in its 53rd year. Rides, games, a costume contest, cookie-decorating and a cake walk are planned. The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at 700 Los Altos Ave. Admission is free; pay-to-play tickets are $1. Go to santaritaschool.org/events/witches.html or call 650-559-1600.
Palo Alto's Mitchell Park and children's libraries host free Halloween craft activities from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26. The libraries are at 4050 Middlefield Road and 276 Harriet St. Go to cityofpaloalto.org.
Menlo Park's annual "Halloween Hoopla" is Oct. 26, starting with an 11:45 a.m. costume parade down Santa Cruz Avenue and continuing with trick-or-treating downtown and entertainment and crafts in Fremont Park from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Go to menlopark.org.
The Friends of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter organization is planning a different take on the classic costume contest. This one is a costume contest for dogs with live music, held Oct. 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Rinconada Park at 777 Embarcadero Road. Admission is free, and donations go toward the shelter. Go to pafriends.org/events/dog-o-ween or call 650-714-8509.
Atherton gets in on the dogs-in-costume act with the "Bark For Life" Walk for the American Cancer Society from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 26 in Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave. Families and canines are invited to participate in costume. Admission is free. No charge for dog biscuits, either. Go to paloaltoonline.com/calendar and search for "Bark For Life."
Oct. 26 is "Monster Bash" day at the Mountain View Community Center at 201 S. Rengstorff Ave. Presented by the city's recreation division, the free event starts at 5 p.m. and includes an outdoor showing of the movie "Escape from Planet Earth," a costume parade and games. Go to ci.mtnview.ca.us or call 650-903-6331.
Contra dances and waltzes get a holiday spin with the Bay Area Country Dance Society's annual Hallowe'en Costume Ball at the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave. The party has live music by Common Ground and goes from 8 p.m. to midnight Oct. 26, with costumes and potluck offerings. Admission is $7-$14. Go to bacds.org.
Anyone can put on a haunted house, but Deer Hollow Farm boasts haunted barns (along with pigs, chickens, cows, ducks, goats and sheep). Kids' activities, costumes and crafts are also planned for "Spooky Times at Deer Hollow Farm" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 26. Go to fodhf.org.
It's costumes + concert at the Canada College Main Theatre at 3 p.m. Oct. 26, when the Redwood Symphony plays its annual Halloween show. The audience and orchestra will dress up, and the program features Lorenzo Palomo's "The Sneetches," narrated by Walter Mayes. Tickets are $10-$30, and the theater is at 4200 Farm Hill Blvd. in Redwood City. Go to redwoodsymphony.org.
The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo hosts its annual Halloween Zoo Night for members only, on Oct. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. Visitors sport costumes, visit with the animals, dine on pizza and drinks and learn about "Halloween science." (The cost to become a member is $100.) Go to friendsjmz.org.
Wee witches and ghouls will invade Palo Alto's California Avenue on Oct. 27, when trick-or-treating and a carnival take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Stanford Band leads a costume parade; the mayor judges a costume contest; mask-making and world drumming liven up the place; and event organizer Blossom Birth hosts a costume swap at 299 S. California Ave. The free event is intended for kids up to age 12. Go to blossombirth.org.
The City of Palo Alto celebrates Day of the Dead from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27, at the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313 Newell Road, the Junior Museum and Zoo at 1451 Middlefield Road, and the Children's Library at 1276 Harriet St. Activities will include art projects, storytelling and folkloric dance performances. Admission is free, with refreshments for sale. Go to cityofpaloalto.org/artcenter.
The Redwood City Library will be less quiet than usual on Oct. 30, when a kids' costume parade will be followed by a kid-rock concert with The Raytones. The free events start at 6:30 p.m. at 1044 Middlefield Road. Go to redwoodcity.org/library. Other free library events include the movie "Monsters Inc." at the Palo Alto Children's Library at 1276 Harriet St., at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30; and craft-making at 4 p.m. Oct. 30 and storytelling at 4 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma St. Go to cityofpaloalto.org or menloparklibrary.org.
"From Zombies to Superheroes" is this year's theme for the Halloween concert put on by the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and the Stanford Wind Ensemble. Expect eerie tunes, including music from computer games. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in Dinkelspiel Auditorium on campus. Tickets are $15 general, $10 for seniors and non-Stanford students, and free for students. Go to music.stanford.edu.
The Lytton Gardens senior community invites in local kids each year for its free "Safe Halloween" family event on Oct. 31. Children up to fifth grade can drop by between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. in costume to trick-or-treat, play games and get their faces painted. Lytton Gardens is at 656 Lytton Ave. Go to lyttongardens.org or call 650-617-7313.
Pipe organist James Welch, along with organ-playing sons Nicholas and Jameson, presents the "All Gory, Loud, and Horror" concert at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto. Bach is always on the bill and costumes are always in evidence. This year's program also includes works by Vierne, Berveiller and Boellmann. Tickets are $10. Call 650-856-9700.
What is a "Trunk or Treat"? Why, we're glad you asked. It's an alternative Halloween shindig at the Mountain View New Life Church, where costumed folks give away candy from their car trunks. The event goes from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31 at 1912 San Luis Ave., Mountain View. Go to newlifepcg.org.