The week leading up to Halloween has arrived and a slew of ghoulish gatherings and celebrations are planned locally leading up to the October 31st holiday.

The customs and rituals of Halloween are believed to have stemmed from both Allhallows Eve (the evening before the Catholic All Souls Day) and Samhain, the ancient Celtic pagan new year.

Compiled is a sampling of upcoming local community events.

HAUNTED HOUSE — The Westchester Recreation Center has some frightful sights brewing for its spooky 15th annual Halloween Haunted House. The haunted house is put together each year by the Westchester Recreation Center staff with kids from Westchester High School and Orville Wright Middle School who volunteer to dress up as monsters and creeps. Haunted house doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday through Monday, October 29th to 31st, at the Westchester Recreation Center, 7000 Manchester Ave., Westchester. Admission is $5. The haunted house is not recommended for children under eight years old, according to Westchester Recreation Center officials.

This year, a carnival — with rides, games and food — will coincide with the haunted house. Carnival admission is free, but rides and games have individual basis charges. Carnival hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, October 28th; and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday through Monday, October 29th to 31st.

Information, (310) 670-7473.

HAMA HALLOWEEN PARTY — A Halloween party with a comedy and music show by The Passion of JosÈ Sinatra, a performer who calls himself the “King of Karaoke” and belts out modified lyrics in his three-octave range, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, October 31st, at Hama Restaurant, 213 Windward Ave., Venice. The party includes all-you-can-eat-sushi. Tickets are $50. Information, (310) 396-8783.

THE BELLS — A screening of the 1926 silent horror film The Bells, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 31st, at the Otis College of Art + Design Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester. The special Halloween screening will feature Steve Roden and a cadre of musicians performing a live improvised soundtrack to the film.

The classic horror film, starring Boris Karloff and Lionel Barrymore, trails an ambitious innkeeper who commits a murder and, although not a suspect to authorities, is tormented by a carnival mesmerist.

Admission is free.

Information, (310) 665-6800.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING — “Night of the Living,” a Halloween party and fundraiser for the 18th Street Arts Center, will keep things spooky with live bands, performance artists, a visual art exhibition and a late-night DJ dance party, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, October 29th, at 1639 18th St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $20.

Electronic music composers/ performers Cirrus will headline the event with three bands performing throughout the evening. Performance artists at “Night of the Living” will include Clan Destino, Wide Open Works, Bob Bellerue, Dawn Kasper and T.W. Li.

The late-night dance party will feature DJs from Loyola Marymount University’s KXLU radio. There will also be a tech-demo with DJ equipment innovator Ms. Pinky.

No party would be complete at 18th Street Arts Center without visual and installation artists, and this event will include Fumiko Amano, Kerry Kate, Blaine Fontana, Adele Peterson, Sean Sobczak, Aaron Jasinski, Marianne Mignen, Jophen Stein, Lola, E.E. Gibson and Dr. Rec.

ABSOLUTELY HALLOWEEN — A family Halloween-themed musical, Absolutely Halloween, will have its final per- formances at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, October 29th and 30th, at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $12.50 adults, and $10.50 for children ages 12 and under.

Absolutely Halloween is described as a tale of a young girl who learns some valuable lessons about life, love and laughter from her cat, who takes her on an Allhallows Eve adventure, joined by a host of curious and intriguing Halloween costumes that mysteriously come to life. The musical is directed by Chris DeCarlo with music and lyrics by Evelyn Rudie.

Reservations, (310) 394-9779 ext. 2.

COMMUNITY HARVEST FESTIVAL — A Community Harvest Festival, that will include a pumpkin patch, games, food, balloons, face painting, children’s crafts, and a moon bounce, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, October 29th, at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 6705 77th St., Westchester. Admission is free.

Costume parades will take place at noon and 2 p.m. A new addition to the yearly festival will be a crafts boutique. The event is organized by Our Savior Lutheran Church and the Children of Our Savior Pre-School.

Information, (310) 670-7272.

HALLOWEEN DOWNTOWN — A number of public Halloween celebrations and activities are planned in Downtown Santa Monica Saturday through Monday, October 29th to 31st.

Tawni’s Ponies and Petting Farm will host pony rides for children and a “petting farm” on the Third Street Promenade (near Broadway) in Santa Monica. Participation is free.

The “petting farm” will include chickens, ducks, goats, sheep and a pot-bellied pig.

On Sunday, October 30th, between 1 and 4 p.m., kids can play a free round of miniature golf at Pirate’s Pier Mini Golf at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, with presentation of a voucher found in the Bayside Beat, the newsletter of the Bayside District Corporation.

A trick-or-treating event is planned at the Santa Monica Place Mall from 4 to 7 p.m. on Halloween Day, Monday, October 31st.

At each of the events, kids can pick up a Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF box. Half of the proceeds from the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program will be used to help Hurricane Katrina’s youngest survivors.

Appearances by children’s characters Casper the Friendly Ghost and Wendy the Good Little Witch are planned at each of the Santa Monica events, which are organized by the Bayside District Corporation, Pacific Park and Santa Monica Place.

Information, (310) 393-8355.

CARNALVILLE! — Performance art with a “dirty carnival sideshow theme,” including “drunk clowns, cancerous cigarette girls, perverted carnies” and just a dab of social commentary, is how Teada Works theater group will ring in Halloween this year. Carnalville! will hit the stage at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 30th, at Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $15.

The show is curated by Kristina Wong and Marcus Kuiland Nazario, with art design by Phranc. It will consist of about a dozen individual interactive performances.

Information, (310) 315-1459.

ENCHANTMENT FESTIVAL — An annual Halloween Enchantment Festival will offer kids a “gentler” haunted house experience, along with harvest celebrations and fairy tales, from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, October 30th, at the Westside Waldorf School, 1229 Fourth St., Santa Monica. Instead of ghosts and goblins, entertainment with themes of “angels and magical realms” will be featured, organizers explain. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children.

Information, (310) 576-0788 ext. 27.

HALLOWEEN STORYTIME — “Halloween Storytime,” a holiday storytelling event for children, with trick-or-treating and a parade around the library, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, October 29th, at the Lloyd W. Taber-Marina del Rey Library, 4533 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. Admission is free.

Information, (310) 821-3415.


DÌa de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is celebrated primarily in Mexico and the Southwestern United States, and is a holiday to commemorate deceased loved ones. The holiday is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the same days as the Catholic All Souls Day and All Saints Day, and is heavily influenced by Mexican indigenous culture.

Celebrations have been planned locally.

D’A DE LOS MUERTOS RITUAL — A free workshop on making Day of the Dead altars and festive items including papier-machÈ skeletons, skulls and masks, conducted by Martha Ramirez, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, October 29th, at SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), 685 Venice Blvd., Venice.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, a traditional altar dedication and Nahuatl ritual will be held, followed by an explanation of the symbology of the ritual. A community altar building event will follow on Thursday, November 3rd.

Information, (310) 822-9560.

DAY OF THE DEAD FALL FESTIVAL — A fall festival with Day of the Dead and Halloween themes will include an exhibit, a haunted house, children’s entertainment, games and Mexican food, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 29th, at the Edison Language Academy, 2425 Kansas Ave., Santa Monica. Admission is free.

Information, (310) 828-0335.