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WITH HAUNTED GRAVEYARDS, GHOST WALKS AND GOOD CAUSES, IT'S NOT HARD TO GET INTO CONNECTICUT'S HALLOWEEN SPIRIT

HARTFORD --- September 27, 2005 -- From the Trail of Terror to pumpkin-picking family trolley rides, Connecticut's Halloween spirit sneaks up and grabs everyone. What better way to say goodbye to autumn than a weekend of ghosts and goblins, crisp apples, hayrides and pumpkins, perhaps a cozy bed (with a resident ghost?) and a fine meal accompanied by a stellar Connecticut wine. And, because the spooky holiday so often is an occasion to raise money for charity, this can also be an opportunity to have fun and make a contribution too.

The Trail of Terror, an annual event in Wallingford that uses some 50 costumed characters to scare the pants off visitors, is a fundraiser for the Red Cross, for example. It begins September 30 and runs on Friday and Saturday nights through October 30 (visit www.trailofterror.com). On October 21-22 and October 28-29, Nightmare on Pleasant Street Meets Tower of Terror in Willimantic will benefit the Research for Ovarian Cancer and Continued Survival organization (www.roccs.org).

At Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, one of the largest Halloween events in the state - The Haunted Graveyard - will contribute to Juvenile Diabetes Research. Open throughout October, the festivities feature six haunted houses, terrifying trails, a fog-filled Forgotten Graveyard, Castle Vampire and more (www.lakecompounce.com). The 6th Annual Corn Maze at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield through October is another example of fun benefiting good causes, in this case the American Cancer Society and, in Greater New Haven, kids of all ages will make a contribution to children around the world at the 19th Annual UNICEF Pumpkin Festival at the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, October 29-30 (203-929-8425).

Ever since the Headless Horseman terrified local residents with his fearsome pumpkin for a head, these giant yellow vegetables have played a central role in Halloween celebrations and there are virtually countless opportunities in Connecticut to purchase, carve or simply admire them. The 3rd Annual Trolley Pumpkin Patch, October 22-23 and October 29-30 in East Haven, combines rides on the Shore Line Trolley with pumpkin decorating for kids (203-467-6927). The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor (860-627-6540) also offers unlimited rides on vintage trolleys as well as visits to the pumpkin patch. And, in Danbury, the preferred means of transportation to pick up free pumpkins in October is a vintage steam train at the Danbury Railway Museum (www.danbury.org). In Windsor on October 8, Brown's Harvest will present the 28th Annual All-U-Can Carry Pumpkin Day, when, for a fixed fee, visitors can cart away as many golden orbs as they can carry.

Why not make CT an authentic ghost setting by staying overnight in one of Connecticut's haunted lodging options? The Lighthouse Inn in New London is known for several haunted rooms and for two Victorian women whose ghosts still roam the property (www.lighthouseinn-ct.com). The Old Mystic Inn located in Old Mystic, is frequently visited by a friendly woman in a white flowing dress who lived across from the inn until her house burned down in the 1960's. (www.oldmysticinn.com). And guests of the Randall's Ordinary Inn and Restaurant occasionally run into first owner, John Randall, who, since 1685, likes to ensure that his Inn is running smoothly (www.randallsordinary.com).

A number of Connecticut organizations take the theatricality of Halloween literally, presenting everything from life-size replicas of famous monster-impersonating celebrities such as Boris Karloff, Vince Price and Bela Lugosi during the Witch's Dungeon Weekend at the Classic Movie Museum in Bristol (www.preservehollywood.org) to the Halloween Magic Lantern Theater in Ridgefield (203-438-5795) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport (www.dtcab.com) to the Mystic Paper Beasts at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, where spooky children's story telling will include "The Flying Head." The Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry will reenact a Hale family funeral on October 23 and also offer Lantern Tours on October 15. Neither are recommended for young children. On a similar note, noted ghost hunter Donna Kent will lead visitors through the Old Norwichtown Burial Ground on a Lantern Light Graveyard Walk on October 30 (860-886-4683). And, in West Hartford, the historic Noah Webster House and the West Hartford Historical Society are teaming up to present a frightening theatrical tour of the local North Cemetery. For those brave enough, the tours, scheduled for October 28-29, begin with a 19th century carriage ride, complete with driver who died more than 100 years ago (www.noahwebsterhouse.org).

Bearing in mind that younger children may scare more easily than teenagers or adults, many organizations, businesses and communities have planned family-friendly Halloween events this year. These include annual Halloween weekends with such activities as costumes, games, scarecrow making, face painting, hayrides, story telling and music in communities such as East Granby, Glastonbury, Hartford, Bristol, Coventry, Stonington and many others.

In Bridgeport, the Beardsley Zoo will welcome families to Boo at the Zoo with free admission for children under 12 who come in costume to participate in arts and crafts and games (www.beardsleyzoo.org). At the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, kids will enjoy a "Spooky Nature Trail", with fantastical creatures and shimmering fairies as well as games and treats. And in Wethersfield, families will get a hoot out of Scarecrows Along Main Street, September 24-October 15 in which all sizes, shapes and descriptions of scarecrows take over the business district.

Other family-related activities include Mystic's Halloween Parade, October 31, and Nautical Nightmares throughout October at Mystic Seaport, where maritime spirits lead visitors on a lantern-lit tour along the Mystic River and through haunted historic ships, telling spooky stories all the while (888-973-2767). Another nautically themed event is the Halloween Hoot at the Maritime Center at Norwalk, October 28, with trick or treating throughout the facility, costume contests and a parade, all free to those wearing a costume (www.maritimeaquarium.org).

Halloween season is also a time to experience fall foliage, and Connecticut is a particularly special place to observe the rich and vibrant colors. The State of Connecticut makes it easy for the visitor to find that perfect fall foliage viewing spot with an interactive fall foliage map that includes "eyewitness" reports from visitors and residents alike of the places to observe autumn beauty. Log on to www.ctfoliage.com.

Finally, a couple of suggestions to appeal to adults - specifically to shoppers. They can bring the kids (12 and under) to Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets (or go alone) on October 31 for the free 4th Annual Halloween Trick or Treat, and chase after candy and treats at participating stores while serious bargain hunting takes place (www.premiumoutlets.com). And, at Stew Leonard's in Norwalk, mom or dad can do the grocery shopping (and much more) while the little ghosts and goblins enjoy the Halloween Hayride Spectacular, the area's largest pumpkin patch and free candy and ice cream. The Halloween happenings kick off on October 1 (www.stewleonards.com).

For further information about the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&Bs and other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 888-CTvisit (888-288-4748) or log on at www.CTvisit.com. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.

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