It’s fun to be scared, as long as you’re being scared just for fun.

We’ve all been living through some frightening times as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. But now that it’s Halloween, we can shiver and shake over the thought of monsters, goblins and ghosts. Fun stuff like that.

This fall, there are no statewide crowd restrictions, as there were last year, so it’s easy to find whatever scary fix you’re looking for. Halloween events around Maine range from mildly spooky family events to more blood-curdling hijinks. These include haunted walks and cemetery tours, pumpkin pageants, a Halloween ballet, a classic silent horror film with thundering music and a play about a famous Maine witch.

Here, then, are some ideas for getting scared, just for fun, this coming Halloween weekend. Remember to check event websites for COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine and mask policies. Halloween is Sunday.

See the spirits come alive during a tour of the Eastern Cemetery in Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

WALK AMONG THE DEAD

Old cemeteries are scary enough, but touring one around Halloween guided by ghosts is about as ghoulish as it gets. Just such an event is the Walk Among the Shadows tour being given by the group Spirits Alive at Portland’s Eastern Cemetery. Seven spirits will “rise” from their graves to tell people stories of their time in the old burial ground. The walks take place in the early evening Thursday through Halloween and donations of $5 to $10 are suggested. For more information and to reserve space, go to spiritsalive.org. 

For another cemetery tour with a twist, try the Judgment Day at the Haunted Court House tour at the 1761 Pownalborough Court House in Dresden by the Lincoln County Historical Association. People tour the courthouse and nearby cemetery, meeting “ghosts” (community volunteers maybe?) along the way. The tours take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and cost $10, but are free for those younger than 16. For more information, go to lincolncountyhistory.org. 

The second annual Belfast’s Great Pumpkin Pageant will be held Saturday. Photo by Chris Battaglia

PASSION FOR PUMPKINS

Pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns are only mildly scary, most of the time, which makes them the focus of a lot of family-oriented Halloween fun. Old York Historical Society is hosting a pumpkin lighting and trick-or-treating from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Kids can trick-or-treat for candy from “creepy characters and ghosts of Halloweens past” at several historic properties in York Village, including Jefferds Tavern, York Corner Schoolhouse and the Old Gaol. Jack-o-lanterns will be lit along the walls of the Old Burying Ground. The event is free. For more information, go to oldyork.org.

The Outdoor Spooktacular and Pumpkin Palooza is happening from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Camden Public Library. People are invited to come in costumes and there will be outdoor games, activities and stories. People can bring their carved jack-o-lanterns to be lit as a part of a display on the amphitheater steps. For more information on the free event, go to Librarycamden.org. 

Just a little up the coast, there’s more pumpkin pageantry with the Second Annual Belfast’s Great Pumpkin Pageant from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Steamboat Landing. Kids are invited to line up in costume with a decorated pumpkin and be part of a procession across the Steamboat Landing field. For more information on this free event, go to waterfallarts.org.

TERRIFYING TRAILS

If you really want to be scared, screaming in terror, then try the Trail of Terror Haunted Walk at Aquaboggan in Saco. Ads for the annual event say the Banshee of the Boggan has carefully crafted the haunted walk to ramp up the scare factor. Evil spirits will be encountered at every turn and are not afraid to reach out and touch you. Highlights include the Psych Ward, the Clowns and the return of Chucky, the vicious doll of the “Child’s Play” horror movies. The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday through Halloween and admission is $10 to $20. For more information, go to OOB365.com. 

One highlight of the Trail of Terror Haunted Walk at Aquaboggan in Saco is the return of Chucky. Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com

Up the coast in Ellsworth, there’s the Terror Trail at the Black House estate, where The Grand Players will provide haunts and horrors. For fans of really scary stuff, there’s this disclaimer on the event website: “There is extensive use of fog, loud and ominous sounds, and scenes of blood and gore. This experience is not recommended for small children. Parental discretion is advised.” The Terror Trail will be open 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Halloween, weather permitting. Admission is $8. For more information and to reserve a time slot, go to grandonline.org.

Jean Tafler plays Margaret Hamilton in “My Witch: Margaret Hamilton’s Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond!” Photo by John Ahlin, courtesy of Snowlion Rep

SCREAMS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Some Maine arts organizations are celebrating Halloween through dance, music and theater. Portland Ballet will present its family-oriented “A Halloween Spooktacular” at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. It features Halloween-themed dances, classical music and a costume parade for audience members. Tickets are $12 to $17. For more info, go to portlandballet.org.

A Portland tradition returns to Merrill Auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday when the city’s municipal organist, James Kennerley, improvises a score to the classic silent horror film “The Phantom of the Opera.” As Lon Chaney scares on screen, the mighty Kotzschmar Organ will send sounds thundering through the venue. Tickets are $18 to $23, plus fees. For more information, go to foko.org.

The actress Margaret Hamilton portrayed perhaps pop culture’s most famous witch in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz.” She also spent much of her life in Maine. A play called “My Witch: Margaret Hamilton’s Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond!” is set in Hamilton’s cabin on an island off Southport, which she purchased in the 1960s. The play premieres Friday through Sunday at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport, presented by Snowlion Repertory Company. Tickets are $23. For more information, go to Snowlionrep.org. 

“Elizabetta” by Anita Kunz is part of “Illustrated Monsters by Monster Illustrators” now on view at Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery.

THE ARTFUL MONSTER

What exactly is a monster? Something scary, mysterious or misunderstood? Something else all together? The new exhibit “Illustrated Monsters by Monster Illustrators” on view at Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery explores that idea.

It features the eclectic work of 32 local, national and international illustrators who provide their interpretation of what a monster can be.

“They can be horrifying, cute, malicious, dim, powerful and pathetic,” reads a press release announcing the show. “Perhaps the disturbing aspect of monsters is that they remain a foil to our humane characteristics. Monsters in all forms help us understand the things that can happen if our better nature runs astray.”

The show is organized by the Portland-based Illustration Institute and is free to the public. It runs through Dec. 24. For more information and to see images of the art, go to illustrationinstitute.org. For information about the Lewis Gallery, go to portlandlibrary.com.

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