With haunted houses, carnivals and parades, the Newport-Mesa area offers
a variety of options for the witching season. The only real question is
how much terror does it take to have a good time.
On the fairly sedate end of the spectrum, pumpkin patches offer a low-key
way to enjoy the season. At Country Fair Pumpkins in Costa Mesa, kids
scramble through a hay-strewn field in search of an ideal gourd for
carving. Some of the pumpkins are petite little vegetables that are
suitable for juggling, while others are massive and misshapen. They slump
like mushy beanbags and could only with considerable ingenuity be carved
into anything resembling a face.
Six-year-old Cole Blower of Newport Beach selected a pumpkin on a recent
afternoon that was possibly the ideal size: large enough to afford a big,
toothy jack-o'-lantern grin, but small enough to be lifted by a single
Workers at the patch caution against taking a knife to a pumpkin too
early -- they rot quickly, especially in the kind of heat the area has
experienced recently, and what looks like a solid gourd can morph in a
matter of days into a fuzzy, soupy mess.
But Blower, who plans to hit up the key trick-or-treating neighborhoods
of Balboa Island, Bayshore and Newport Heights in his Pokemon Charmeleon
costume, didn't look like he was in the mood to be patient.
For kids who hope to get started on their candy-collecting endeavors
while the sun is still high in the sky, the Orange County Fairgrounds
holds trick-or-treating at its swap meet on Halloween day. Children can
try their luck asking swap meet vendors for candy, though there's always
the chance that they'll receive a pack of discount socks or a set of
Also a notable early-strike opportunity is the ninth annual "Halloween
Happening" at Fashion Island, which runs from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Oct. 31.
Costumed kids -- more than 3,000 are expected, organizers said -- can
rampage through the mall in search of merchant-provided candy.
For those who need an absolutely immediate fix of fall, the Fairgrounds'
Harvest Festival, which runs today and tomorrow, offers a few