Multiple events for Halloween offer treats for ghosts, goblins

Great Pumpkin Float set for Sat., Oct. 20Great Pumpkin Float set for Sat., Oct. 20 Those not-so-scary scarecrows, black and orange garlands, and jack-o’-lanterns are popping up all over front porches. Kids want as much candy as possible, but wary parents are making no bones about seeking alternatives to door-to-door trick-or-treating. And Dorchester is hosting several Halloween events, some of which even boast a little educational value.

Sat., Oct. 20

For the 11th year, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) starts the Halloween season off in earnest with one of Dot’s signature spectacles : the Great Pumpkin Float, this year on Sat., Oct. 20, at Pope John Paul II Park. Hundreds of costumed children and their families will coax a flotilla of illuminated jack-o’-lanterns down Davenport Creek to the Neponset River, providing photo ops galore.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., participants can bring a 6-8 inch pumpkin that has been carved at home to the Hallet Street entrance to the park to be mounted on a special individual float. Each jack-o’- lantern will have a candle inserted and lit before being launched en masse in the water. Floats and candles will be provided. The result will be a beautiful water parade of ghoulish gourds. Free hot cocoa and candy treats, too. The event is free and no registration is required. Pumpkins will be collected for composting and floats are recycled for next year’s event, making this a green tradition. Call DCR at 617-333-7404 for weather updates.

Fri., Oct. 26

The Franklin Park Coalition invites neighbors to their Night Walk in the Woods. “Tune your ears to the creatures of the night while prowling around Franklin Park just before Halloween. Wear sneakers or walking shoes, costumes discouraged, no flashlights allowed! But you’ll still see lots by the light of the moon. Come wander the deepest woods, wonder about the ghosts that haunt park ruins, and let yourself be spooked!” Meet at Valley Gates parking lot midway along the park road by 7 p.m. Look for the lighted jack-o’-lantern on the gate. franklinparkcoalition.org   

Sat.-Sun. Oct. 27-28

Among the haunted happenings at the Franklin Park Zoo’s annual “Zoo Howl” (both days 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) are creature encounters, creepy crafts, ghoulish games, a trick-or-treat trail and the Haunted Maze. Radio Disney will be broadcasting from main stage. The Puppet Showplace Theatre and Catching Joy will also be on site on Sat., Oct. 27, for puppet-making and Halloween crafts.  Franklin Park Zoo is pleased to partner again this year with Green Halloween, a non-profit, grassroots initiative to encourage communities to celebrate healthier and more sustainable holidays. greenhalloween.org.

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Thousands of costumed trick-or-treaters and their parents will flock to Southie for the immensely popular Children’s Magical Halloween Castle from noon to 4 p.m. An all volunteer army from the Castle Island Association transforms Fort Independence into a Halloween fun town. Normally bare former soldiers’ quarters are decorated in Disney and seasonally appropriate motifs.

Sun., Oct. 28

Cedar Grove Gardens at 911 Adams St. will host its annual all-ages Harvest Festival from 1-3 p.m. The event includes horse-drawn hayrides across the street in the Cedar Grove Cemetery. The festival includes a scarecrow contest with prize of $250 for the best entry by a group (a perfect opportunity for a class art project.) For more information, call 617-825-8582.

Mon., Oct. 29

The Annual Haunted House (Mattapan B-3 Police Station, 1165 Blue Hill Ave., 5 p.m.-8 p.m.) will feature music, food, costumes, candy, spookily decorated dungeon (cells), and much more! In years past over 650 kids participated in the event. 617-822-8269.

Sat., Nov. 3

From 10 a.m. to noon: Three days after Halloween, Boston Natural Areas Network invites families to The Pumpkin Drop. “Bring us your withering jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkins and smash them into the City Natives compost piles (30 Edgewater Drive, Mattapan) and learn how BNAN recycles green waste to improve soils across Boston.” To register for a program: Call 617-542-7696 or e-mail info@bostonnatural.org