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Scary Cheap and Free Halloween Activities

Jennifer Calonia

Halloween takes place at an awkward time of the week this year, as it's on a Thursday. Some celebrants have already had their share of screams by celebrating the costume-clad holiday last weekend, but Halloween purists are still plotting their day-of adventures for All Hallows' Eve.

About 9 in 10 Halloween participants say they plan to spend less on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation. With the eleventh hour drawing near, and a greater number of cost-conscious consumers looking to celebrate on the cheap, finding a frugal - or outright free - Halloween activity can help ensure savings and scares get equal attention as the holiday season kicks off.

Affordable Halloween horrors at home

Homebodies need not fret on Halloween, as there are many ways to get in on the Halloween fun without leaving the comfort of your own home. Here are a few ideas to get the thrills going Oct. 31.

--Halloween potluck:Host a Halloween get-together with a handful of close family and friends. Offer to provide drinks or a main dish, and have everyone get creative with a Halloween-themed side dish.

--Carve fall-themed pumpkins: Who says you can only carve pumpkins before Halloween? Oct. 31 is officially Pumpkin Carving Day, so grab a gourd and carve autumn-inspired designs on pumpkins.

--Scary movie night: Go the route of an all-nighter horror movie marathon. Revisit classics such as "Dracula," "The Exorcist" and "The Shining," and then work your way to recent releases.

Local spooky fun on the cheap

Staying local is the most practical thing to do when you're down to the wire. Here are a few events and activities taking place across the country to get in the Halloween spirit.


Night of the Disco Dead - Located at the Coup d'Etat on 2109 S. Wabash Avenue, this event will showcase a disco-inspired mash-up of music, along with prizes, a costume contest and more groovy (and ghoulish) fun. The party runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., and admission is only $7.

Garfield Park Conservatory's Creatures of the Night - The theme of this event doesn't disappoint when it comes to things that go bump in the night. An animal exhibit with night creatures, including fruit bats, owls, a wolf and spiders, will set your curiosity and nerves tingling. Music, candy, craft stations and other Halloween activities are also on the docket. Admission is free, but a $3 donation is recommended.


Halloween Candy Hunt - The Houston CityCentre is hosting a pedestrian-friendly event that's entertaining for people of all ages. The kids can participate in an adventurous candy hunt and grab sweets at trick-or-treating locations throughout the venue. Adults can hit the dance floor and enter the event's costume contest for bragging rights. The evening is free, and complimentary milkshakes will be provided by Grub Burger Bar.

Los Angeles

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval - This event on Halloween is something adults can look forward to, drawing in an estimated half of a million people. In addition to showcasing an array of extravagant costumes, the free event will host six stages with as many as 50 performers. A parade along Santa Monica Boulevard takes place from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Las Vegas

Halloween Parade - On Halloween night at 6 p.m. the parade line will gather at Fremont and 13th streets. Costumed participants can partake in the 7 p.m. parade, then mingle more at the after party taking place on Freemont and 7th Street. The event includes dancing, food and a costume contest. Register at thelasvegashalloweenparade.com.

Las Vegas Senior Center Luncheon - Senior citizens ages 50 and older looking to socialize can visit the Las Vegas Senior Center on 451 E. Bonanza Rd. for a Halloween luncheon, candy, games and prizes. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. Admission is only $5; registration is required.

Los Angeles

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval - This event is something adults can look forward to, drawing in an estimated half of a million people. In addition to showcasing an array of extravagant costumes, the free event will host six stages with as many as 50 performers. A parade along Santa Monica Boulevard takes place on Halloween from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

New York City

Haunted House Maze - For a frightening and free experience, head over to Recreation Center 54 in Manhattan on Halloween for its famous haunted house maze. The event is kid-friendly and open to the public.

A Haunting We Will Go - Those in costumes can take an afternoon stroll to Cedar Grove Avenue at Waterside Street on Staten Island for a free day of crafts, a costume contest and games. The event is open to everyone and takes place 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

23rd Annual Children's Halloween Parade - This long-standing public event typically draws in more than 3,000 people. It includes a parade that begins at the Washington Square Arch at 4 p.m. The event is for children ages 3 to 12 and includes trick-or-treating, games and Halloween rides. The event is free for all guests.

San Francisco

Flash Dance - San Francisco locals who want to keep the Halloween haunts going through the night of Oct. 31 can participate in a secret flash dance party in a location yet to be disclosed. The event is entirely free, but those who want to join in on the fun must follow @deepfunstuff on Twitter.

Tallahassee, Fla.

The maze at Aunt Louise's Farm - This corn field maze operates through Nov. 17 on Saturdays and Sundays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., making it a great fall event to catch in Tallahassee. Admission to the maze is just $5, and a self-guided tour of the farm is free.

Tulsa, Okla.

HallowZOOeen 2013 - Oct. 31 is the last day of the Tulsa Zoo's HallowZOOeen event, which offers trick-or-treating for kids. Other family-focused activities are available, such as games, a haunted train ride and more. General admission is $8, but members of the zoo can get in for $7.

Jennifer Calonia writes for GoBankingRates.com, a source for online banking, the best CD rates, savings account rates, personal finance news and more.

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