I hate Halloween.

I think I have finally traced this visceral response to a Hershey holiday back to October 31, 1959. I was ordered to remain at the dinner table until my plate was clean. On that plate was succotash, surely the most disgustingly viscuous version of creamed corn ever devised by man. Hours passed (well, child hours. It might have been 15 minutes) before a clever collaboration with my little brother made the mess on my plate disappear. Two little ghosts were finally outside, going door to door, begging for candy on Woodward Avenue. To this day I cannot see a can of that stuff without gagging.

And other than a sheet over my head, I cannot recall a single costume that I have ever willingly worn. However, I did relent and have some fun when my children were very small. One year - it may have been 1989 - a pint-sized Peter Pan and a sweet little Tinkerbell trick-or-treated on the streets of Boulder, CO. Then, suddenly, they were old enough to craft their own disguises. In October 2000 (or was it 1999?), my daughter kitted herself out as the Millenium Bug. My son and his friends had already morphed into mummies, zombies and werewolves. We blessedly just missed the now popular trashy, low-cut slut-wear for little girls and not-so-little girls. Whew.

If, unlike me, you love Halloween and can't wait to wear masks, makeup and marvelous duds, Buffalo is host to tons of wild and crazy costume parties. The most fabulous ADULT Halloween bash is probably The Witches Ball at Statler City. Remarkable. But The Rave That Must Not Be Named 2 at the Dnipro Center is probably a very close second and it's in a truly scary venue. And there's always the raucous, bawdy Rocky Horror Picture Show Party at the Riviera.

If you prefer spirits that spook you rather than elevate your blood alcohol level, consider the Willowlight Hallowed Night in East Aurora. In the same spirit is the Victorian Séance Series at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, which offers two different types of séances on three different dates. Or catch the the Haunted History Ghost Walk in Allentown. This is the original ghost walk of Buffalo’s historic arts district (since 1999) and the last one of the season.

The top family-friendly option this year for my money is the Halloween Puppy Parade and Costume Contest at the WNY Book Arts Center. What could be cuter than canines in costume? A new option is El Día de los Muertos at Karpeles on Porter, where you should expect a delightful Latin flavor and lots of dancing for the whole family. And the Fall Festival at the Great Pumpkin Farm finally draws to a close this weekend with a Halloween bang, featuring a costume contest and dinosaurs in the corn maze. 

If you consider Halloween to be strictly for kids, there are no end of events that make good use of those cute little costumes for more than just the annual meander through the neighborhood. My top picks are: the Spooktacular "Bunnicula" Halloween Event at the Theater of Youth. Bunnicula is the vegan vampire star of this delightful play with pre- and post-play Halloweeny festivities. Remaining on this highbrow plane for a lowbrow holiday, I suggest Symphonic Spooktacular with Cirque de la Symphonie at Kleinhans with the BPO - amazing artists, incredible feats of human strength and jaw-dropping stunts, plus a costume parade. Or head to the History Museum for All Hallows Eve, to NYPA for Spooktacular, or to the Aquarium for Halloween Happenings.

How will I celebrate Halloween? Funny you should ask. I will be at the Explore Boo!ffalo Halloween Bash at the Barrel Factory this Saturday evening. Ironically, I have been asked to Judge the costume contest. Really? Can you think of anyone less qualified? Or perhaps the good folks at Explore Buffalo were looking for a completely unbiased judge who will be simply amazed at all of the elaborate costumes. I'm happy to be there (with Buffy, of course) to support Explore Buffalo and the invaluable work they do all year long telling thousands of people powerful stories about our remarkable architecture, history and community. Please join me there and share my terror! It promises to be the best Halloween party of them all.