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Spooky outdoor family fun at Naperville history museum campus

Adison Glick enjoys making people laugh but he also loves scaring the daylights out of them.

He gets to do both Oct. 14-15 during the 18th running of All Hallows Eve, the annual Halloween fright fest at Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville, where he works as the special events team leader.

This year, the entertainment will be more family friendly, with more outdoor activities and fewer attractions inside buildings on the museum campus, Glick said. But with such features as Alien Autopsy, Graveyard Gameshow and other ghastly things under the moon and stars, there will be some scary fun.

“The inspiration for attractions at All Hallows Eve comes from cautionary folktales, dark literature and subcultures that focus on the ‘other’ and mortality,” Glick said.

“The festival presents these unnerving and mysterious aspects of our society in a safe and fun way to create an unforgettable, and often hilarious, interaction between people and their fears.”

Among the things visitors will see are people walking on glass and nails, fire manipulators and what he calls “creepy characters” who will be roaming the grounds.

Last year, when the event returned after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, more than 5,000 attended.

The size of the crowds caused organizers to get a little nervous since most shows were indoors. They decided to make some changes to the format and spread out over the 13-acre grounds.

“It’s more of an outdoor focus,” said Denise Cartina, the Settlement’s public relations and social media team leader. “In the past, it was indoor performances in our historic buildings.

“The event has just grown so much over the years. To preserve our artifacts and to be safer, we wanted things to be outdoors.”

A few indoor shows in the Century Memorial Chapel, the Carriage House and the Meeting House remain. Actors from the Magical Starlight Theatre, the Kaneland Arts Initiative and the Academy of the Arts will put on a trio of Halloween-themed performances, including one based on Lindsay Currie’s book, “The Girl in White.”

Despite the darker aspects of some of the shows, Cartina said much of All Hallows Eve will be geared toward the 16-and-under crowd and officials are hoping more families will come out in 2022.

Glick said this is a pretty big project to pull off each year.

“It takes a full year of planning, approximately 100 actors and actresses, and around 50 volunteers to create the unusual wonderland that is All Hallows Eve,” he said.

The LaGrange, Indiana, native said there weren’t elaborate events like this when he was growing up, but Halloween was still a blast.

“Trick-or-treating in the community was a big deal,” Glick said. “I’ll never forget the elementary school music teacher who lived on my block because when kids would come up to his porch and say ‘trick-or-treat,’ he would perform a magic trick or prank them and then declare, ‘You said, ‘trick OR treat’, and I gave you a trick.’

“This fun variation on the classic Halloween tradition has continued to inspire me to this day,” he said.

In addition to the bevy of scary entertainment, there will be laser tag, a zombie maze, a reptile and bug show, ax throwing, black light painting, face painting and a food court.

It runs from 6:30 to 10 pm each day and the $20 tickets can be purchased at napersettlement.org. Naper Settlement members and children under 4 get in free.

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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