Haunting Fun in Galveston

 This Halloween, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy on Galveston Island.

By Sara G. Stephens

Autumn’s beauty descends onto Galveston with a colorful coolness. For travelers in the know, this season marks the most desirable time to visit the Gulf Coast island, given its pleasing temperatures, scant crowds and, most importantly, a bevy of festivals dotting the calendar with delightful diversions for visitors of every interest.

Of course, the top-of-mind October interest for most families is Halloween, and Galveston has got this celebration covered with two festivals that make the hour’s drive from Houston a chilling no-brainer.

Galveston is recognized as one the most haunted cities in America. Its rich, phantom-filled history has made the town a regular subject in books, documentaries and other media that follow happenings of the ghostly variety. We can’t imagine a better place to celebrate Halloween.

Thanks to some clever planning, Galveston’s two Halloween-oriented festivals occur on the same date, Saturday, October 25, at different times, allowing you to get the most out of your haunted excursion.

At 1pm, bring the kids to the 4th Annual Saengerfest Mini Monster Bash at Saengerfest Park, 2302 Strand. This free, three-hour spook-tacular festival will include assorted games and prizes, trick-or-treating at participating downtown businesses, face painting and a costume contest for children ages 0-11 at 3pm.

Children will compete for prizes for the scariest, cutest and most creative costumes for ages 0-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-11.  For families just looking for some Halloween fun, the park will be decorated to provide the ideal backdrop for Halloween photos. Additionally, Haunted Mayfield Manor is hosting scary stories as well as kid-friendly tours of the haunted house during the hours of the festival. Haunted Mayfield Manor is a twelve-room haunted mansion themed around the fictional Dr. Horace Mayfield, who supervised one of the morgues following the 1900 storm. For more information about Haunted Mayfield Manor, visit HauntedMayfieldManor.com.

Mitchell Historic Properties and the local non-profit Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) present Saengerfest Mini Monster Bash. TMMSN will add some educational value to the Halloween fun with learning-based games, real marine mammal bones to view and touch, mock dolphin stranding and rescue and more.

For information on the Mini Monster Bash, call (409) 761-4102 or email cwalker@mitchellfamilycorp.com

At 4pm, the Mini Monster Bash ends, and it’s time to take your little monsters back to the hotel where a babysitter, Grandma or Grandpa will watch them while you, Mom and Dad, get ready for the second festival of the day—The Witches’ Ball… and this one’s for adults only.

At 8pm, get yourselves to the Galveston Scottish Rite Cathedral (2128 Church Street), where costumed guests will be gathered for this annual, grand Halloween tradition. Make the most of the night by coming in costume (if changing personas is not your cup of brew, you can alternatively wear cocktail attire). A costume contest will award prizes in four categories: best witch, best couple, most creative and crowd favorite. Once you enter the Witches’ Ball, everything is complimentary, including a full bar, food and entertainment, but you should bring enough cash to tip your bartenders, as they are volunteers. You may also wish to purchase a commemorative Witches’ Ball t-shirt for $10 each (cash only). Door prizes will be awarded every hour.

Besides being a fantastically fun date night, the annual masquerade party raises money for the Galveston Island Humane Society. Tickets are sold at The Witchery, 2116 Postoffice Street in Galveston, or over the phone (409-515-0669) and cost $75 per person for the first 100 tickets, then $90 per person.

With a nod to All Soul’s Day, the Ball presents an Altar of Remembrance to honor those we have loved and lost. Guests are welcome to bring a small photocopy of a lost loved one’s photo to place on the board.

The party ends at 1am.

For more information on The Witches’ Ball, visit www.Galveston.com or call 409-515-0669.

A Galveston Halloween will be one your family talks about for years, whether you come for one of these spooky events or for the island’s haunted history. Plenty of ghost tour operators are happy to take you around the island and fill your treat bag with facts surrounding Galveston’s eerie history.

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