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Halloween season 2022: Spooky things to do in Northland

From haunted houses to scary movies to family-friendly frights, there are dozens of ways to get into the spirit of the season.

Two women, one in middle age and one in teens, stand in a red-lit room with spooky paraphernalia including skulls visible at the margins of the frame.
Glenda Miller, left, and her daughter, Brittany Miller, took a break from checking lights in the spider room at Haunted Hawthorne, a haunted maze in the backyard of their Cloquet home, in October 2021.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — As with so much this year after the 2020 pandemic shutdown and 2021's limited reopening, live events are back in a big way during spooky season in Duluth, Superior and the Northland generally. There's so much going on this year that it's impossible to make a complete list, but here are a few dozen of the most ghoulishly enticing ways to get the shivers this October.

Haunted houses — and a haunted ship

If you're hoping to get scared this season, proprietors of various places and spaces are happy to accommodate you with ghouls, monsters, ghosts, clowns — you name it.

Superior's Massacre on Hammond has the special scare of being a "home haunt": since he was a kid, Dan Kittelson has just liked making scary stuff. What's he building in there at 1701 Hammond Ave.? It sounds sketchy, but the Massacre on Hammond has built a longstanding reputation as a can't-miss community event. The free frights only take place four nights: Oct. 28-31, with an extra low-scare walk-through on Halloween. For details, see facebook.com/massacreonhammond.

Haunted Hawthorne, in Cloquet, is also a family affair — and also free, with donations accepted. From Oct. 1-30, Glenda Miller and her family will open their home at 827 Hawthorne St. to those who enjoy the likes of a reflective room and animatronic Krampus (both features of the 2021 haunt). "It's just a family," one neighbor told the Pine Journal last year, "but they do a really super job." Details at facebook.com/hauntedhawthorne.

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Brody Fleming, of Duluth, in costume during preparations for the Haunted Ship in 2021.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

In Duluth, where if something can be done on a boat, it will be, the William A. Irvin is once again becoming a Haunted Ship. From Oct. 6-31, the retired freighter becomes a walk-through scare factory playing on attendees' fears of the ghosts of the deep. "Starting in the engine room, you will travel through the ship until you land in your final destination that is below the freezing waters of Lake Superior in the maze of terror," promise organizers. Details and tickets are at duluthhauntedship.com.

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One way or another, you'll probably escape the Haunted Ship before morning. You won't get out so easy at Duluth's Merryweather Inn, where Guilty Party Mysteries is presenting a Paranormal Murder Mystery Weekend involving overnight stays in the 1904 house. In what sounds like a cross between "Ghostbusters" and "Clue," guests will both investigate supernatural activity and try to solve a crime. There's a premium price ($525) for this "immersive getaway experience" Oct. 28 and 29, but it comes with a three-course dinner — if you can work up an appetite. Details and tickets: guiltypartymysteries.com.

Monster movies

The Zeitgeist Zinema has programmed a monthlong series of classic horror films, with a heaping helping from the golden era of the 1980s. Each movie plays for only one night this season, so you'll want to mark your calendar now if you're hoping to catch one on the big screen. Selections include "The Lost Boys" (1987) on Oct. 5; "An American Werewolf in London" (1981) on Oct. 6; "The Thing" (1982) and "They Live" (1988) as an Oct. 12 double feature; "The Shining" (1980) on Oct. 19; "Videodrome" (1983) on Oct. 20; and an Oct. 26 Jordan Peele double feature of "Get Out" (2017) and "Us" (2019). Tickets and details are at zeitgeistarts.org.

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Rehearsals for the Zenith City Horror production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in 2021.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

If you prefer your cinema to be interactive, Zenith City Horror and the Duluth Playhouse are here for you with their annual presentation of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." From Oct. 27-30, they'll be in the Underground at the Depot for their specially enhanced screening of the quintessential cult classic. Whether you're a total newbie or have your Frank N. Furter cosplay ready and waiting, you're welcome to "Time Warp" to the galaxy of Transylvania. Tickets and info: duluthplayhouse.org.

Family frights

A man dressed as a sheriff and a young girl dressed as a cat sit on a grassy slope while the child drinks juice. Fall leaves are visible out of focus in the background.
A father and daughter relaxed during Boo at the Zoo in 2019.
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune

As you'd expect from an institution that keeps fruit bats instead of vampire bats, the Lake Superior Zoo doesn't aim to give anyone too much of a scare. That means its annual Boo at the Zoo events are more about fun than fright. On Oct. 15, 22 and 29, the zoo becomes a Halloween wonderland with trick-or-treating, a pumpkin patch, a magic show, drag story time and more. Tickets are available at lszooduluth.org.

What would Halloween be without celestial objects? Werewolves would be so confused. The University of Minnesota Duluth's Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium is hosting Halloween at the Planetarium on Oct. 29, promising "spooky fun, spectacular shows and lots of candy." Learn more at facebook.com/umdplanetarium.

The first-ever public Halloween event at Superior's Fairlawn Mansion also takes place Oct. 29. Fairlawn Mansion's Haunted Halloween turns adult after 7 p.m. with a "bring your own boo-ze" event. (The only rule is that you can't bring any dark liquids, blood included.) From 2-5 p.m., though, the former Children's Home welcomes young visitors with a party featuring crafts, treats and a costume contest. See Fairlawn Mansion and Museum on Facebook for details.

Large crowd of adults and children, many in costume, gather on a lawn outside a two-story brick building painted with the Bent Paddle Brewing Co. logo.
Monster Mash at Bent Paddle Brewing Co. in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Contributed / Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Oct. 29 is also the date Bent Paddle Brewing is hosting its Monster Mash family-friendly costume contest and carnival from noon to 3 p.m. Bonus if you have a four-legged family member; the event will be dog-friendly, with contributions from several local pup-oriented organizations. Two-legged attendees can enjoy games like a ring toss, a bag toss and a Frisbee toss. As long as no one tosses their cookies, everything will be cool. Website: bentpaddlebrewing.com.

In addition to the ample selection of seasonally appropriate books for all ages (as of this writing, copies of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" are on the shelves and available for lending at every location), the Duluth Public Library is hosting some special events. There's an Oct. 8 cosplay clinic if you want to work on your costume; an Oct. 19 evening with the Duluth Paranormal Society; a Halloween glitter tumbler craft night Oct. 20; an Oct. 22 Pumpkin Palooza at Harrison Park; and an Oct. 26 "Hallo-Teen" event for adolescents building their spooky looks. On the morning of Oct. 31, young kids are invited to all locations for Halloween at the Library events. Details vary by location. Duluthlibrary.org has the scoop.

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Glensheen's Great Pumpkin Hunt will be returning this October, with pumpkins hidden throughout the mansion for kids to spot. See glensheen.org for details.

Early in the evening Oct. 31, the Harrison Community Center and Northern Expressions Arts Collective are presenting an "interactive trick-or-treating stop" taking its inspiration from Lake Superior shipwrecks. For more information on Ghosts of GichiGami, see facebook.com/northexp.

Do the Transylvania Twist

This is the section where you'll find events that fall under the general umbrella of "nightlife, but make it spooky."

The Jade Fountain is getting the party started early, with an Oct. 22 Halloween at the Jade event. They're serious about it; costumes are absolutely required for this second-annual fete, which features music from the Crunchy Bunch. For information and tickets, see facebook.com/greeneframeevents.

Duluth's Mix Cosmetiques is offering Make Your Halloween Makeup Look workshops for people to put their Halloween faces on, and take home enough makeup to do it again when the (night) time is right. Reservation windows are available Oct. 26-29; for information, see mixcosmetiques.com.

You'll definitely want that look to include some dark eyeliner if you're heading to Goth/Emo/Pop Punk/Spooky Bingo at Burrito Union, featuring tunes from that broadly defined family of genres. You could win a free drink or a gift card — but really, it's about the music, right? For more information on the Oct. 26 event, see facebook.com/burritounion.

Every nonprofit needs a gala, and the Duluth Art Institute has called dibs on peak costume-party season with its Masquerade Gala on Oct. 27. This may be as close to the Met Gala as Duluth can get. Organizers promise "wild outfits, intricate makeup, dramatic hairstyles and artist-made statement pieces." There will be a drag performance by Zenith City Horror and a "special appearance" by "RuPaul's Drag Race" veteran Utica — as well as music, comedy and needless to say, art. Masks will be required, so have some fun with it. Details at duluthartinstitute.org.

Alice Schroeder started the small theater troupe in 2017 and produces cult-classics, a variety show and soon original theater.

You may want to leave the artist-made statement pieces at home if you opt to join the Halloween Bar Crawl. "Join The Event That Keeps Getting Bigger!" urge organizers, and they have the numbers to back it up: "2020 - COVID; 2021 - 627 crawlers; 2022 - 750+ People Expected!" Several venues in downtown Duluth and Canal Park are already confirmed for the Oct. 29 crawl, with more to come. Get your group costumes coordinated (if Twitter is any indication, the "Don't Worry Darling" cast members at the Venice International Film Festival are the reach goal this year), and check out crawlwith.us for more information.

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Superior is not a city to be left behind when it comes to bar crawling. The Poltergeist Pub Crawl is also taking place Oct. 29, spanning 10 Soup Town venues. It's associated with the Goin Postal Fall Music Festival, which is bringing stacked live music lineups to four of the bars on the crawl. Performers include the Fractals, Born Too Late, Adam Herman, Woodblind and a band whose name you definitely do not want to plug into a search engine: Spider Penis. Happy Halloween! Details at facebook.com/gpfallmusic.

The words Terror Train don't necessarily suggest dancing, but in fact the North Shore Scenic Railroad is bringing a DJ and live music entertainment on the Oct. 29 three-hour costume party excursion. On its way back to the Depot, the train will stop in Canal Park "for anyone looking to make a 'zombie crawl' through that area of town." Hoops Brewing will host an afterparty. For details and tickets, see duluthtrains.com.

Up on Superior Street, Pizza Luce is hosting an Oct. 29 showcase with the theme "Halloween is for Monsters." A lineup assembled by local standby Heiko Edwardson will feature a "super secret surprise headliner" along with Gnarwhals and a Foo Fighters cover set by Taylor and the Hawks. (Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins died March 25 at age 50.) The event will include a costume contest, gift bags for the first 100 attendees, and "spooky stuff!" For info, see allevents.in.

Large crowd of costumed people in red-lit brewery, with large fermentation tanks visible in background.
Haunted Paddle party at Bent Paddle Brewing Co.
Contributed / Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Last but not least, on Oct. 29, Bent Paddle Brewing is hosting a Haunted Paddle party at their Lincoln Park production brewery from 7 p.m. to midnight. They promise live music, DJs and "a costume throwdown like you have never seen before." Presumably, at least some of their staffers will show up dressed as Bent Paddle beer. Their website is bentpaddlebrewing.com.

If you want a pumpkin to come home to after all this revelry, you can decorate one — well, you can just decorate one at home, but if you want that part of your seasonal observance to also take place at a drinking establishment, the Tap on Tower's got you covered. Their Pumpkin Painting event takes place Oct. 8; $10 gets you a pumpkin and painting supplies, and another $20 secures bottomless mimosa access while you work. Going with paintbrushes instead of sharp implements was probably the right call here. See facebook.com/thetapontower for details.

Get out(doors)

Experience the great outdoors, or participate in Halloween activities? Why choose?

If you're already motivated to run, there are a couple of organized ways to do so. Grandma's Marathon is hosting a North End Nightmare 5K in Superior on Oct. 22. The run "travels through the North End of Superior as night falls and finishes near Earth Rider Brewery." Costumes are, needless to say, encouraged — and organizers promise you'll encounter haunts along the way. Learn more at grandmasmarathon.com.

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Pumpkin Run & Walk in Cloquet.
Contributed / Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

The same day in Cloquet, the 17th annual Pumpkin Run & Walk 5K makes it a little easier on you. If you don't have a costume, just wear pumpkin color! The event, which prides itself on being "northern Minnesota's oldest Halloween-themed race," is based at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Details are at fdltcc.edu.

For a very mild dose of Halloween, you can spend your All Hallow's Eve Eve with Zenith Adventure, which is offering an Ely's Peak Sunrise Hike in Duluth on Oct. 30 (among other dates). Just a hike and some fall colors, no ghosts — unless Edmund F. Ely decides to put in a posthumous appearance. After all, being a teacher he was probably an early riser. Information and reservations are available at zenithadventure.com.

You can also take an educational stroll through Canal Park — educational in the sense that Duluth Ghost Tours offer "50% history, 25% spooks and 25% paranormal investigation," as tour guide Kimberly Christine recently told the News Tribune. "We talk about the history of Duluth, shipwrecks, lore, as well as explaining about the paranormal world." Tours are ongoing through October; see duluthghosttours.com for reservations.

Canal Park at dusk
Kim Christine, of Cloquet, owner of Duluth Ghost Tours, talked about Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum in August.
Clint Austin / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

On the other hand, maybe you're the kind of person who needs a little motivation to get moving. Maybe a skeleton, maybe a scary clown. You can find such frights at the Haunted Shack and Ru-Ridge Corn Maze in Carlton. An attraction that started in the basement of the Gary New Duluth Fire Hall has grown to "Minnesota's scariest haunted house" (by its own acclamation), incorporating a haunted hayride and haunted corn trail. The scares run from Oct. 14-29. For the latest information, see facebook.com/haunted.shack.

If you just want the corn maze, the Oulu Corn Maze in Bayfield County has you covered. Organizers have confirmed they'll be opening the maze on weekends this October, with one opportunity to go through the corn at night: Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. The maze may or may not be haunted that evening, depending on whether enough "ghosts" volunteer, but there will be a warm fire — and it will be dark. "I'm a big chicken, so that's spooky enough for me," said Angela Nollet, one of the people who runs the attraction. Organizers have been posting information at facebook.com/oulucornmaze.

Hellwig Hollow, in Canyon, brings Halloween frights into the northwoods — as in, literally into the woods. Last year, Facebook user Katie Gustavsson wrote: "We had so much fun when we went on Friday, that we volunteered to be actors on Saturday!" Now, that's a testimonial. This year they're opening Sept. 30, and then will be open every Friday and Saturday in October from 7-11 p.m. (Last tickets are sold at 10:45 p.m. each night.) Attendees park at the Dawg House Bar and Grill, then shuttle to the woods. Watch hellwighollow.com for updates.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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