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Trick-or-treat, Halloween events set to scare, entertain Harford residents

For those in the mood for something spooky or for some just plain fun this Halloween, Harford County has no shortage of ways to celebrate the haunted season.

Trick-or-treaters will undoubtedly be out in force throughout the county Oct. 31, and Harford has recommended certain trick-or-treating times that day to help keep children safe.

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Those times are: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Aberdeen and Bel Air; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Havre de Grace; and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the rest of the county.

Besides the regular candy-seeking in residential neighborhoods, there will also be events at several shopping centers and some downtown areas.

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The Festival at Bel Air will host its 26th annual Halloween Costume Parade, Contest & Trick-or-Treat on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thousands of visitors are expected at the free festivities for what is called "arguably the county's largest" such event.

The parade and trick or treat will be the parking lot between RiteAid and Uptown Cheapskate and all kids in costumes will get candy and trick-or-treat bags, according to Festival's website.

More than 1,300 bags were given out last year and the top 10 costume contest finalists got prize bags, as well as gift certificates to Festival stores.

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This year, some downtown Bel Air businesses will host trick-or-treaters early, also on Oct. 25. Children in costumes are welcome to make the rounds in the Main and Bond Street areas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wegmans, in Abingdon, is also promoting a Halloween celebration the same day, encouraging customers to come in costume from noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 25.

Trick-or-treaters will get a free reusable Halloween bag and activities will include a Witch Hat Ring Toss, Boo! Bean Bag Toss and Pin the Tail on the Cat.

Attendees can get treats, vote for their favorite employee-carved pumpkin and catch a showing of "Hocus Pocus" at 6 p.m. Pumpkin decorating classes are also scheduled at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. that day, for $5 per class.

Havre de Grace is again holding its annual Halloween parade the day before the holiday, promising to pack the Washington Street area with lots of costumed revelers and family-friendly entertainment.

The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30. Anyone who wants to enter the costume contest must register at 5:30 p.m.

Brigitte Peters, of Havre de Grace Tourism, notes everyone gets something in the parade. She anticipates about 300 children will join this year's parade.

The event takes place at Washington Street and Congress Avenue. It features entertainment by the Havre de Grace Drama Guild and DJs "will be up there revving the crowd up, which is a lot of fun," Peters said.

Prizes will be awarded for best costumes, as well as to all children in costume.

"It's one of my favorite, favorite events," Peters said of the parade.

Legends of the Fog will once again be scaring visitors at 500 Carsins Run Road in Aberdeen with a Sinister Circus, "signature" Haunted Hayride and Carsins Manor "abandoned orphanage" running through Nov. 1.

The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon is also offering a trio of Halloween-related events both spooky and scientific.

The estuary science lab will hold Halloween Chemistry from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, when children can create "eerie Halloween fog," make slime and "witness the puking pumpkin."

Creepy Creek Canoe will let visitors venture around the creek at night on "a spirited exploration of legends and lore of man and beast" on Oct. 24 starting at 6:30 p.m., while the Halloween Pontoon will also glide along the Bush River on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., with participants listening to spooky stories, searching for bats and enjoying treats.

More information on all Anita Leight events is available at http://www.otterpointcreek.org.

County law enforcement officials also issued some tips to keep kids safe on a night when pedestrians are more likely to mix with traffic.

"Motorists traveling on Halloween night should remember that children are everywhere: streets, sidewalks, crosswalks and parking lots," according to the county's website. "You will need to be on the highest alert while driving."

The county also recommends that children under 12 be accompanied by an adult and that all children have a curfew, understand the difference between tricks and vandalism, be encouraged to stay in groups, wear bright material or have reflective tape, wear well-fitted costumes that provide visibility, carry a flashlight, walk on sidewalks, avoid taking shortcuts through backyards or alleys, trick-or-treat in well-known neighborhoods, never enter a stranger's home and never eat treats before getting home and having them inspected.

The county's website, http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/halloweensafety, also features links to places to pick pumpkins, as well as countywide hayrides and corn mazes.

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