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By Christianne McCormick

October 2, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- Many family-friendly Halloween events are popping up throughout East County and will be available all throughout the month of October. 

Festivities include a spooky campover, costume contests for people and pets, a haunted train ride, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, a haunted amusement park, a fall celebration, safe trick-or-treating for children at a local shopping mall, and Haunt Fest, a family-friendly Halloween festival. 

In Downtown El Cajon, there will be the 10th annual Haunt Fest located on East Main Street from Magnolia to Avocado/Ballantyne on October 21. Haunt Fest features a pumpkin patch, costume contest, kids’ zone, carnival rides and live music on multiple stages. The costume contest will be held on the stage on Main Street and there will be a performance by the TNT Dancers and Arts In Motion Crew & Jr. CrewTheevent will also include carnival rides, games, and even a car show. Kids can enjoy St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center pumpkin patch, craft and game booths, an LED rock wall and inflatables. Haunt Fest will also be showing a surprise feature of Movies In The Park. For more information, visit http://hauntfest.org/.


Spooky Camp-O-Ween will be held on October 21 through the 23rd and October 28 through All Hallow's Eve on October 30 at Camp Lake Jennings in Lakeside. Lake Jennings is considered to be one of the most scenic parks in San Diego County. Kids can enjoy trick or treating on the campgrounds, a spooky scavenger hunt,campsite decorating, and other creepy crafts. This event will only be for registered campers so be sure to book soon. For more information, visit http://www.lakejennings.org/.


If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate the Halloween season check out the Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration hosted by The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association. All their vintage style trains will be decorated to fit the seasonTake a ride through San Diego County’s mountains. The haunted train departs from the Campo Depot at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m.,1:45 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. The train rides final destination at the museum grounds features a walk through a themed display building complete with Halloween scenes, a pumpkin patch, and a creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls.. Pumpkins are included in the purchase of every toddler and child ticket on the Pumpkin Express. Additional pumpkins may be purchased for $5 each.  Passengers of all ages are encouraged to comein costume.


PSRMA also announces the return of first classtickets on its Pumpkin Express. Those riding in ATSF 1509 can enjoy a premium atmosphere, complimentary soft drinks, and light assorted candies and snacks. For more information, visit https://www.psrm.org/pumpkin/.


Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine has a series of spooky events lined up, listed below. For full details, pricing and reservations, visit https://www.lionstigersandbears.org.

  • Spooky Campover | Friday Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. to Saturday Oct. 29 at 10 a.m.

The annual Spooky Campover is a fall favorite, giving guests a once-a-year chance to camp in the countryside alongside the rescue animals at Lions Tigers & Bears. The overnight event includes songs and s’mores by the campfire, pumpkin carving, other spooky surprises and a Halloween costume contest on Saturday morning. Lions Tigers & Bears encourages all guests to bring an item from their wish list, a list of most needed items that can be found on their Wishlist Page.

After a night of hauntingly good fun from the Spooky Campover, rescued animals will wake up to Halloween treats, tucked inside pumpkins carved by campers the night before. Whether you camped at the sanctuary the night before, or just want to come for the festive visit, all are welcome – Halloween costumes encouraged – to watch the big cats and bears discover and devour their fall delights.   

During the month of October, Lions Tigers & Bears is offering a free child “Member for a Day” visit with each paid adult “Member for a Day” booking in October. Visits include a two-hour guided education visit of the sanctuary and animal habitats while learning about each one’s rescue story. Reservations must be made in advance. This promotion is subject to availability and is not valid on special visit days or in combination with any other offer.

The Haunted Amusement ParScare Trail will be hosted in El Cajon at the Old Marshal Scotty Playland this year. The event was formerly known as Scotty’s Scare Trail. The trail opened September 30 and will end this year on October 31st at 10:00 p.m. There will be carnival rides from the 1960’s, a roller coaster, a Ferris Wheel, and bumper cars. Those that choose to try out the bumper cars will get to experience out-of-this-world visuals with 3D glasses. Then you can take a trip to the Trail’s Circus Maze where many side show freaks are bound to find you. You can then make your way to the old attraction Graveyard where you will see the broken down cars from the roller coaster, a race car, a ferris wheel gondola still waiting for repair from the undead fix-it crew. The trail that spans about one mile will also offer the viewing of a slaughterhouse and much more. For more information, visit https://www.scaretrail.com/.


Bates Nut Farm, the farm where they have had over 50 years of fall celebration, is open until October 31. On weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30p.m. and on weekends 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $8 per vehicleThe farm will be open until 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 14th, 21st and 28th.  Attendees get to enjoy tractor hayrides, the pumpkin patch, and a straw maze. There is also a petting corral and pony rides. Dogs on a leash are welcome at the farm. 


Grab a wheelbarrow and pick from variety of pumpkins: Big Macs, Ghost, Cinderella, Jack O’Lantern, minis, squash, gourds and other fall décor. There will be face painting by Fancy Nancy FacesHenna and live musical performances. For more information, visit https://batesnutfarm.biz/


Mountain Valley Ranch’s Pumpkin Patch is on until October 31, 2021 in Ramona. Located on 842 Highway 78 and is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This ranch has been around for 24 years and offers a wide selection of pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn. This pumpkin patch offers a corn maze, corn cannon, and a petting zoo that is open all day 7 days a week throughout the month of October. Pony rides will be available Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is 100% free with refreshments available on the weekends. For more information, visit https://mountainvalleyranch.com/.


Oma’s Family Farm Pumpkin Patch open until October 29 and is located on 14919 El Monte Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040. This pumpkin patch does require reservations and all ticketing is done online. They have a wide variety of pumpkins to select from which include Cinderellas, Whites, Fairytales, Howdens, and Merlins just to name a few. Pumpkins come in all sizes from tiny to 100+lbs. 


Oma's Family Farm Pumpkin Patch is also offering wagon rides, cottonseed mountain, a sand pile with toys, there is playground equipment on site, petting corral, pedal cart/tricycle racetrack and a special play area for children under 5For more information, visit https://omasfamilyfarm.com/.


Canine Corners Dog Park will host its 24th annual Howl-a-Ween Festival and Costume Contest on Saturday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park in La Mesa.  The contest will take place at 11 a.m. Guests are invited to dress up and get creative with your best friend, join in a costume contest for small and large dogs, as well as consider taking home a new pet from pet adoption groups that will be present. There will also be food, raffle rpizes and exhibitors.  All proceeds will support the Canine Corners Dog Park. Find more information at https://caninecornersdogpark.com/12th-annual-howl-o-ween-festival-and-co...


Grossmont Center will be hosting a free safe trick or treating option for the kids on October 31 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive La Mesa. You can get a complementary pumpkin bag at the Guest Services center. The center will be featuring FREE professional photos, special guest characters, face painting, games,and other activities. This event does require registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trick-or-treat-at-grossmont-center-tickets-425956837367?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

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