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Events for Children in NYC This Week


A walk through the Bronx Zoo’s Haunted Forest at “Boo at the Zoo.”

Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

Our guide to cultural events in New York City for families with children and teenagers.

‘BOO AT THE ZOO’ at the Bronx, Queens and Prospect Park Zoos (Oct. 28-29) Halloween promises a wild time, and few places do that better than those where wild creatures reside. Each year these zoos host weekend celebrations that educate about animals as well as entertain young humans. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Bronx Zoo offers a Haunted Forest, with both wildlife models and scary apparitions, and the Extinct Species Graveyard, a fake cemetery devoted to a real threat: vanishing creatures. Other attractions include presentations of live birds associated with Halloween, like owls, ravens and vultures, and a costume parade with stilt walkers from Alice Farley Dance Theater. The Queens Zoo’s festivities, also 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., include holiday treats for wildlife — meat-stuffed pumpkins, for example — and a haunted trail for people. The Prospect Park Zoo, whose “Boo” runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a Spooky Barn, is focusing on bats, whose activities are more helpful than horrifying. And who could resist a concluding dance party alongside the sea lions, which are pretty inventive movers themselves?
718-367-1010, bronxzoo.com/boo; 718-271-1500, queenszoo.com; 718-399-7339, prospectparkzoo.com

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS/DAY OF THE DEAD at the National Museum of the American Indian (Oct. 28, noon to 5 p.m.). This Mexican and Central American holiday is about a happy return, not a tortured haunting. Believed to be a time when the spirits of deceased love ones revisit their homes, it features lots of skeletons and skulls, all considered joyous rather than ghoulish. At this free Manhattan event, children can celebrate by decorating paper skull masks and skeleton puppets, painting plaster skulls and making paper flowers, another holiday symbol. Surrounding the museum’s community ofrenda, or altar, the troupe Cetiliztli Nauhcampa Quetzalcoátl in Ixachitlán will perform traditional dances.
212-514-3700, americanindian.si.edu

‘GHOULS & GOURDS’ at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Oct. 28, noon to 5:30 p.m.). And books. This garden presents a Halloween festival that aims to cultivate young minds as well as a few chills. Its Author Avenue will feature readings by almost 20 local children’s writers and illustrators, often exploring humorously spooky themes. Other entertainment includes a Vegetable Midway, with produce-inspired games, and a Club Bug, where visitors can stroke hissing cockroaches and feed hornworms. Two stages will offer live performances of music, theater and circus arts, and a finale costume parade and drum circle will welcome little goblins to strut alongside stilt dancers.
718-623-7200, bbg.org

‘HALLOWEEN HARBOR’ at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (Oct. 28, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.). Spirits don’t need houses to haunt; ships, wharves and beaches will do just as well, and those will be among the spooky milieus investigated in this Staten Island event, which comprises five institutions on the harbor campus. Highlights will include pumpkin painting on the South Meadow and “Van Gogh, Goblin Games, Goo and Gobs More,” from noon to 3 p.m. at the Staten Island Children’s Museum, where visitors can conduct electricity experiments, à la Victor Frankenstein, and join a Monster Mash dance party and costume parade. The Staten Island Museum will offer more mad science activities (noon to 4 p.m.), while the Noble Maritime Collection will present “Mysterious Harbor” (4 p.m.), the historian Pat Salmon’s talk and slide show about eerie episodes in the area’s past. Teenagers may also enjoy the evening Ghost Tours of Snug Harbor, in which paranormal investigators will visit buildings that are normally closed.

OBAKE FAMILY DAY: SPIRITS OF THE MISTY SEA at Japan Society (Oct. 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Japan doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but that doesn’t mean it has a dearth of ghosts and goblins. Called obake (pronounced oh-BAH-kay), or shape-shifters, and yokai (Yoke-EYE), or monsters and spirits, they will be out in force at this festival, which this year focuses on those with watery origins. Festivities include an interactive performance of “Mysterious Lake,” a puppet- and percussion-filled play based on a short story about an American boy in Japan who encounters many helpful supernatural entities at the title location. Young revelers can also enjoy a Haunted Adventure Tour, a seafaring quest that will involve surmounting obstacles and outwitting prankster spirits, and a Port of Call Amusement Hall, with traditional games. All are invited to join the concluding Parade of 100 Ghouls; costumes are encouraged.
212-715-1258, japansociety.org

‘ONCE UPON A DRAG’ at N.Y.U. Skirball (Oct. 29, 3 p.m.). Creative costuming is at the heart of Halloween, and who’s more of an expert than New York’s drag performers? At this Greenwich Village celebration, billed as “for kids of all genders and ages,” eight entertainers promise not only a costume party but also a performance of fairy tales whose plots and lessons have been adapted for contemporary relevance. Young audience members are invited to dress as their favorite fairy tale characters, but if they don’t have costumes, some of the participating artists will offer one-minute makeovers in the theater lobby, starting at 2 p.m.
212-998-4941, nyuskirball.org

‘A SKY FOR THE BEARS’ at the New Victory Theater (Oct. 28-Nov. 5). There is no Goldilocks in this theatrical adventure. Based on two German children’s books and presented by the Italian company Teatro Gioco Vita, this production, having its American premiere, focuses on the dreams of its furry title characters. One adult bear, tired of his solitude, embarks on a journey to find a family. In another forest, a cub seeks the clouds, hoping for a reunion with his dead grandfather. Recommended for ages 4 through 7, the 45-minute piece unfolds unusually, through imaginative puppetry (especially shadow puppetry), dance, acrobatic movement and a lilting score.
646-223-3010, newvictory.org

SPIDER DAY at Wave Hill (Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Most children are acquainted with “the itsy-bitsy spider” of nursery rhyme, but if they’d like to meet bigger and bushier varieties, this Bronx public garden is the place. It will honor all things arachnid, starting with its family art project (on Saturday, too) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants can make both spider web costumes of mesh tulle and individual insects from felt and pipe cleaners while listening to Rama Mandel, who will offer spider-filled folk tales. From noon to 3 p.m., the garden will feature an Arachnid Appreciation Station, where the entomologist Lawrence Forcella will show off live and preserved examples, including common orb weavers and fuzzy tarantulas.
718-549-3200, wavehill.org

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