By Katie Riley
When the teen years hit, finding something to do on Halloween can be tricky.
Emma Moore of Davidsonville has always looked forward to trick-or-treating on Halloween with her friends, but this year things might change for the 16-year-old.
“It’s a great excuse to hang out on a school night,” she says, but she realizes she’s probably pushing the age limit for collecting candy from neighbors. “We may have a party this year, or go somewhere else since it’s a Friday night.”
Every Halloween, thousands of teens face the dilemma of whether to continue trick-or-treating or find something else to do. Older kids cherish the time spent with friends, and plenty of parents are supportive of their kids trick-or-treating well into adolescence.
“I feel like kids grow up so early these days,” says Donna Gogarty of Crofton, mom to three boys, ages 11, 14 and 16. “Why not let them indulge in one of childhood’s rituals as long as they want? So long as they are respectful.”
Most teens will decide on their own when it’s time to stop trick-or-treating, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some frightful fun without the candy. Read on for ideas of how your teen can enjoy a spooktacular evening that will keep the Halloween spirit alive, long after dark.
Haunted Houses, Spooky Trails and More
Teens looking for a scare this Halloween have their pick of haunted houses, trails and creepy attractions. Maryland’s largest haunt, Field of Screams Maryland in Olney, offers four different attractions, with varying levels of terror.
“Field of Screams is a great destination for a group. Each attraction has a different fright factor, so visitors can choose something that suits their comfort level,” says owner Dan Dionisio.
The signature attraction, the Trail of Terror, features more than 75 different actors at 13 stations along a wooded trail. It is recommended for ages 12 and older.
The Lusian Manor haunted house has Hollywood-style animatronics, sound and lighting, and the Hade’s Hayride takes visitors through a wooded trail with a zombie-military storyline. Teens will also love the Paintball Apocalypse, where they can ride in a trailer with paintball guns and shoot zombies with glow-the-dark pellets along the way.
“Parents love Field of Screams because we are a completely enclosed space, we don’t allow backpacks, alcohol or smoking, and we have a large police and security presence on-site,” Dionisio says. Visitors can roast s’mores at the bonfires or purchase treats like fried Twinkies or boardwalk fries at the many food vendors inside the entrance.
Heidi’s Haunted Hills in Harwood has been frightening visitors for the past five years with creepy walk-through wooded trails that feature ghosts, clowns, witches and just about every horror imaginable. Local high school students volunteer as actors, and the trail changes yearly. Heidi’s Haunted Hills sponsors an annual food drive, so take along a canned good for discounted admission.
The Nightmare Manor in Ijamsville offers a chilling array of attractions to keep your teen busy this Halloween. Fearless ghost hunters will love venturing through the spine-chilling manor house, said to be haunted by real ghosts.
“Nightmare Manor is unique because it’s historic, and it is actually haunted. We try to stick to the original storyline of the home’s history, and it has a truly authentic feel,” says Director Kirk Davis.
Outside the manor house, teens can enjoy an assortment of creepy activities like the zombie nation, live magic and the fear fair, or try their hand at the bungee run and paintball shooting range. An outdoor cinema, fire performers and concessions ensure a night filled with eerie entertainment.
At Bennett’s Curse in Jessup, the most intrepid teens can see why it is consistently named one of the scariest attractions in America by “America’s Best Haunts,” a website that rates attractions. Teens must brave the Castle Bennett, which houses the House of Vampyres, an underworld filled with evil demons. They can venture further into the Zombie Kingdom, a 3-D attraction and, finally, head into the Sanctuary of Insanity filled with the world’s most criminally insane madmen.
Featured on the Travel Channel and the show “Making Monsters,” Bennett’s Curse employs the latest in cutting-edge technology for a haunt that will petrify the most fearless ghost hunter.
Thrills and chills at area amusement parks
For a ghostly adventure of a different sort, head to an area amusement park for a night that would scare the pants off any teen.
When the clock strikes 6 p.m. at Six Flags, the park is transformed into a world of the living dead known as Six Flags’ Fright Fest. Teens can get their candy fix on the Trick-or-Treat Trail or visit one of the six nail-biting haunted houses throughout the park. Kick back and enjoy some frightful fun at one of the park’s six frightastic shows before ending the night with a different sort of scare, on one of the park’s roller coasters.
The Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion features hair-raising rides and a horror experience that encompasses the whole park. Teens can roam the park with zombies, monsters and ghouls before braving rides like the Flight of Fear or the Grizzly wooden roller coaster. Arrive in full costume for discounted admission.
For a sweet deal this Halloween, teens should head to Hershey Park in the Dark to experience roller ghosters, live entertainment and spooky attractions guaranteed to conjure the Halloween spirit.
Trick-or-treat for the needy
Many teens still love to go door-to-door in costume, but one way to get treats of a different kind is to trick-or-treat for charity.
“Every year we have a number of teens and high school students who raise food and monetary donations through Halloween activities,” says Bruce Michalec, executive director of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank.
Local food banks are always accepting donations, and teens can look online for a list of needed items in advance. Most families have a canned good on hand they are willing to donate on the spot.
“Some years, we’ve had kids bring in six or seven pounds of food from their campaigns,” Michalec says.
Trick-or-treating for charity is a great way for kids to experience Halloween while keeping in mind those less fortunate. No one knows this better than UNICEF, which has raised more than $170 million for kids in need since 1950 through the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program.
“UNICEF is one of the longest-running youth initiatives in the country,” says Mary Kate Chaath, director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for UNICEF. “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a great way for kids to help other kids.”
Many schools already distribute UNICEF materials before Halloween, but it’s easy for teens to send away for the materials or sign up as a group organization. UNICEF also has a new program that allows kids and teens to start their own fundraising page using social media.
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