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Parades, festivals and family fun mark the return of fall in South Jersey
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An Awesome Autumn

Parades, festivals and family fun mark the return of fall in South Jersey

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The shore is a funny place. One minute it’s all about beaches, waterparks and ice cream on the boardwalk, and in the blink of an eye we’re all rocking earth-toned sweaters and downing pumpkin-spiced lattes like it’s our job. But such is life in a state where all four seasons actually feel completely different.

And while the shoobies likely assume that the entirety of the shore shuts down once they leave town, the good news is that the fall provides some of the nicest weather for heading out and enjoying some seasonal activities. Everything from outdoor markets to hayrides and other spooky Halloween events serve to highlight each weekend, giving us locals plenty of reason to forget all about the madness of the summer.

“I wait all year for the autumn to come,” says Mary Robinson, a New York transplant who currently resides in Linwood. “There is a peacefulness to the offseason, but that doesn’t mean we all go into hibernation! I actually find myself doing more outdoor activities in the fall months, because the oppressive heat of the summer is gone. I love the crisp fall air and all of the fun that the season brings.”

And she’s not alone: If social media trends have taught us anything, it’s that folks all over are embracing “sweater weather” more than ever.

Here are some of our picks for the best autumn activities coming up in South Jersey this week.

Evil Dead The MusicalVineland’s Landis Theater will be the home of plenty of blood and guts as they play host to “Evil Dead The Musical,” which — in case the title didn’t give it away — is a musical adaptation of the famously gory “Evil Dead” film franchise. The musical is filled with plenty of comedy to balance the gratuitous violence as it tells the story of five college students who spend the night in an abandoned cabin in the woods and accidentally unleash the forces of evil upon themselves.

Those whose craving for gore is not easily satiated can purchase tickets to the VIP Splatter Zone, where the blood and guts are likely to land right in your lap. An “I Survived Evil Dead the Musical” T-shirt is included with each VIP Splatter Zone ticket.

Shows begin at 8 p.m. and run Monday through Saturday, Oct. 25 through 30. Tickets, priced at $20, can be purchased at TheLandisTheater.com. The Landis Theater is located at 830 E. Landis Ave. in Vineland.

Halloween at DiDonato’sDiDonato’s is many things to many people. It’s a bowling alley, it’s a mini-golf spot, it’s a restaurant, but most of all it’s a place for great family fun. Their Rolling Railway – an outdoor train ride installed in 2016 – transforms into the Trick-or-Treat Train during Halloween season, offering guests tricks, treats and surprises without any big scares.

If that’s not enough, they also have a pumpkin patch, a Halloween Hay Maze and a Local Witch who is available to take pictures with everyone. DiDonato’s Trick-or-Treat Train will offer its final Halloween boarding beginning noon Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24. Tickets are available for $12.95 per person online or $14.95 at the door. DiDonato’s Family Fun Center is located at 1151 S. White Horse Pike in Hammonton. Go to DiDonatoFunCenter.com for more info.

‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Poe’ at East Lynne TheaterEast Lynne Theater cranks up the spookiness this week with a pair of shows that are sure to give you the chills. The famous silent horror film “Nosferatu” will be shown 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22. The film is famous for being the first vampire film ever produced. Wayne Zimmerman will provide live accompaniment on the organ. Tickets are $15.

“Poe by Candlelight” will feature actors reading their favorite stories by famed author and master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. Tickets are $12. East Lynne Theater Company operates out of First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, 500 Hughes St., Cape May. Go to EastLynneTheater.org.

Trick or Treat Weekends

at Storybook LandA beloved space to bring the kids this time of year is Storybook Land, a quaint and somewhat offbeat kiddie amusement park themed to all of the classic characters from childhood stories and nursery rhymes, such as Mother Goose, Little Jack Hoerner, The Three Bears and more.

This October, in addition to the usual rides and attractions, the park will host Trick or Treat Weekends on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31. All attending are encouraged to dress up in costume – no scary costumes or clown costumes, though — and go trick or treating at various spots throughout the park. In addition there will be a Happy Hayride as well as Elmer’s Hay Mazin’ Maze where guests can find their way through hay bales and cornstalks. Each child will also receive their own mini pumpkin to decorate.

Tickets to Trick or Treat Weekends are $29.95 and are only sold online. None will be available at the door. Go to StorybookLand.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

C.R.O.P.S. Market in ChelseaLooking for some amazing fall produce? The C.R.O.P.S Market @Chelsea will take place at O’Donnell Park on Albany Avenue in Atlantic City noon to 3 p.m. Sundays through the end of October.

Vendors, entertainment and activities will be offered to the community. Free parking is available at the Stockton University lot at Hartford Avenue and the boardwalk.

The C.R.O.P.S. Market @Chelsea will feature farm fresh produce, artisan products and community organizations sponsoring activities. In addition, each week will feature a different culture from the neighborhood, with dance, music and merchandise. For more info, go to ChelseaEDC.org.

Fall Festival at La MerFall is in the air, and La Mer will celebrate the change in seasons by hosting a weekly Fall Festival noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

There will be face painting, balloon animals, cotton candy, cookie decorating, a fortune teller and more. For those looking for a little bit of friendly competition, there will be hay bale bowling lanes and cornhole. And the lawn bar will be open, serving up festive treats and specialty fall cocktails.

The fun continues 6 to 9 p.m. with live music on the lawn as guests can cozy up to a firepit while relaxing in La Mer’s Adirondack chairs.

Tickets to the Fall Festival are $2 and may be purchased the day of on site from one of the many La Mer team members. Each game and activity will require a ticket.

La Mer Beachfront Resort is located at 1317 Beachfront Ave., Cape May. Go to CapeMayLaMer.com for more info.

Halloween Village

in BridgetonThe already spookily-named Shoppes at Dragon Village in Bridgeton will host their own Halloween village this year 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24.

The event will feature artists, craftsmen, antiques, food trucks, train rides, VR motor sports, live music, pop-up shops, scarecrows, fall flowers and plants for sale, pumpkin painting and more. Cost to park is $2 per carload. The Shoppes at Dragon Village is located at 97 Trench Road in Bridgeton. Go to ShoppesAtDragonVillage.com.

Cape May’s

Halloween paradeHalloween is all about family fun, and what could possibly be more fun than winning a prize for your costume at Cape May’s annual Halloween parade? Starting 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, kids of all ages — as well as adults and groups — can register to be judged for who has the best costume in each of a variety of divisions. There is even a division for floats!

Judging begins at 2 p.m., and the parade kicks off at 3 p.m. on the corner of Perry Street and the Washington Street Mall in Cape May.

Prizes will be awarded to all divisions at the conclusion of the parade at the Emlen Physick Estate. The public is encouraged to participate by registering their children in costumes for judging or entering their own creations including antique autos or decorated golf carts.

The Grand Marshals for the parade this year include Cape May City Mayor Zachary Mullock, Deputy Mayor Stacy Sheehan and Councilmembers Shaine Meier, Chris Bezaire and Lorraine Baldwin.

Pre-registration is available at Cape May Convention Hall, or you can download the registration form at CapeMayCity.com.

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