10 Things To Do for Spooky Month

October is coming to a close, which means that the most wonderful time of the year is drawing ever closer. And no, it’s not Christmas – no matter what the department stores at the Newport Mall might be telling you. For the sinister souls among us – the gastly, ghostly ghouls who love to wear black and thrive in mid-60 degree weather – Halloween is the only holiday worth mentioning, and it’s almost here.

Need some inspiration for how to have a great spooky week? Bump some appropriate music, and look no further… if you dare!


1. Have some fun for the whole family!

Happily, the Jersey City Free Public Library has your craft calendar filled and your costume party card punched with tons of free events for kids of all ages throughout the city. Between candy-count guessing, puppet shows, movie screenings (1993 Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, anyone?), craft time, trick-or-treating, and more, Jersey City’s library system is sure to have something for every kid, no matter the location or schedule. Parks throughout the city are also hosting a slew of kid-friendly events. Check out Sgt. Anthony Park on the afternoon of the 30th or Audubon Park on the day itself for costume parades, pumpkin painting, and other spooky fun.


2. Take a fresh spin on the “Trunk or Treat”-ing, a.k.a Halloween Tailgating

And of course, what would Halloween be without an appropriate amount of tricks, treats, and other costumed capers? If your neighborhood isn’t much for door-to-door trick-or-treating, don’t miss the Halloween tailgates (sorry, I mean “Trunk or Treats”) around the city. Information for locations and dates can be found on the Jersey City Cultural Affairs website.(And if you’ve never before heard of this revolutionary concept, trunk-or-treating is when folks decorate their cars and distribute candy to kids the same way they might have done from their stoop – so break out the fake cobwebs, the tiny Snickers bars, and see if there’s one in your neighborhood!)


3. Hit up a costume parade… with your pet!

Look: everybody loves dogs in outfits – there’s no arguing with this incredibly well known fact. This year, dress your dog up in an outfit, or look at other peoples’ dogs in outfits at Hamilton Park’s Pet Costume Contest. Sponsored by Sage Veterinary Center and Downtown Woody’s Grooming Salon, the event is free (with registration), and prizes will go to winners in categories like “best matching family costume” and “most adorable costume.”



4. Get spooky with Ghost of Uncle Joe’s

A can’t-miss event for the music fan, goth, and party animal in you, this annual music series is back once again to benefit the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery. The main event was this past weekend at the JC & Harsimus Cemetery, but there’s one more evening of spooky scary festivities at Corgi Distillery this coming Saturday. Turn out in your Halloween finest for one last night of your favorite local bands dressed up and playing cover sets by your favorite famous musicians – and support a great cause while you do!



5. Take in some culture at the Zombie Opera

Jersey City’s favorite zombie opera, Zombie Opera, is back for the third year running! This Saturday, October 29th catch the undead opera extravaganza at the gazebo in Hamilton Park. The evening’s production will feature music from operas like Faust and La Boheme, with performances by six singers, including co-founder Molly Dunn and the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindell Carter. This year’s show comes with a circus theme – transforming the gazebo into a tent and jazzing the place up with some theatrical lighting. As always, the opera is free (earlier this month, Dunn and director Catriona Rubenis-Stevens told to the Jersey Journal that the event “is and always will be free” and is “open to everyone,” pushing against the ingrained idea that classical music is only for the wealthy) and if it’s anything like the past two years, a huge turnout is expected. And yes, costumes are encouraged for attendees.



6. Hang out at Harry’s House… I mean, at White Eagle Hall

Jersey City’s concert venue, White Eagle Hall, is celebrating the spookiest season with  “Harryween” on Halloween night – a dance party featuring the music of the one and only Harry Styles. Unfortunately, Harry will not be in attendance, but I’m sure it will still be fun, right?

Costumes, as usual, are encouraged, and tickets can be purchased through White Eagle Hall’s website.


7. Pay a visit to Jersey City’s dearly departed

After you’ve turned out to the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s to support preserving the JC & Harsimus Cemetery, try taking a jaunt through the grounds! The historic cemetery is full of fascinating sights, like unique grave markers and statuary, as well as a view of the New York City skyline.

Another great place to take an afternoon constitutional is the Holy Name Cemetery. A sprawling Catholic cemetery wedged between the busy West Side Avenue and the highway, it’s an unexpectedly perfect place for a brisk walk, quiet contemplation, finding your friends’ last names on grave markers from the early 1900’s, and communing with the dead.


8. Stay home with a book!

If all this fun feels a little loud, and if you would rather curl up on your couch for a night of listening to the wind whistle through the trees (or the squealing of train breaks in the distance, traffic headed toward the Holland Tunnel, somebody honking their car horn repeatedly for some reason, a jackhammer – I realize you might not have a lot of control over what you’re listening to), perhaps try sinking your fangs into a tale of terror as you while away the cold, dark hours?

Luckily, Word Bookstore has curated a list of exactly the spine-tingling horror reads you might be craving for those nights, recommending classic writers like Anne Rice and Stephen King, as well as newer voices in horror, like Hailey Piper and Eric LaRocca.



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9. Get out of the city and go leaf peepin’!

Though Jersey City might be more concrete than foliage, it’s still relatively close to tons of places to explore the great outdoors. Less scary than seasonal, taking a walk in one of New Jersey’s numerous parks and nature preserves is still a great way to spend a free afternoon if you’ve got the time and the means of transport. (Though one might argue there’s a degree of spookiness to walking deep in the woods…)

According to NJ Hiking, peak leaf season for much of New Jersey lasts through the end of October, so you’ve still got time to take in some fall color. Parts of north Jersey especially are currently in “peak conditions,” with the rest of the state following close behind.

If you’re taking public transportation, check out NJ Transit’s Transit to Trails map, which shows the bus, train, and other public transit routes to around 40 parks throughout the state. If you’ve got a car, use NJ Hiking’s Trailhead Map, which also has information about leaf status in each region. A great place to start is High Point State Park in Sussex – it’s got tons of hiking trails and the highest elevation in the state with panoramic views to match.



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10. And finally, get weird by visiting some sites documented in Weird NJ!

Finally, New Jersey might be famous for its highways, strip malls, and industrial dinge, but it’s legendary for its, well, urban legends. Pick up a copy of their biannual magazine (or browse their website), pile into the car, onto the train, or onto the back of your broomstick, and head off into the unknown. Jersey City has a few local phenomena, like the “St. Joseph’s Cat’s Eyes,” a pair of mysterious lights allegedly visible in the belfry of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Pavonia Avenue since 1921, but Weird NJ’s archives contain tales of the strange and unexplained throughout the state. (Just make sure not to trespass as you go about your supernatural journey!)

Alexis Bates
Author: Alexis Bates