Halloween in the Venice area is more than a day of dressing up as your favorite zombie; it’s two weeks of parties, hauntings and the 25th annual Children’s Halloween Parade downtown.

Celebrate the spookiest time of the year and test your courage on the haunted trails at Oscar Scherer State Park, 8-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24. Two trails will take you through haunted woods, which vary in scariness. For little ones (and scaredy cats), there are family-friendly activities on the Trick-or-Treat Trail. Tickets are $5 for children and adults; 4 and under are free. (No additional park entrance fee.) Advance tickets can be purchased at the park, Bentley’s Hotel, Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department and Bentley’s Ice Cream. Proceeds support the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park and the Osprey-Nokomis Chamber of Commerce.

And for something truly scary, there’s the Hellton Inn at the State College of Florida’s Venice campus. The Venice Pop Culture Club created the haunted house and it’s open to the public, 7-10 p.m. Oct. 26-29 and 7-11 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Lakeside Pavilion at SCF Venice, 8000 S. Tamiami Trail. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), a nonprofit agency in Sarasota that serves victims of domestic and sexual violence. Tickets are $3. Go to scf.edu/maps for maps and directions. Call 408-1476 for more information.

We all know Venice loves a parade, and the most adorable (and scary) one takes place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, with the 25th annual Children's Costume and Halloween Parade downtown. Children need to be at Centennial Park, 200 W. Venice Ave., at 4 p.m. The parade starts at 4:30 with the 1926-built Old Betsy, the city’s first fire truck, leading costumed revelers for a few blocks on West Venice Ave. When they reach Nassau, the ghosts and goblins will head towards downtown for trick-or-treating. About 100 shops will be handing out treats. Venice MainStreet executive director Erin Silk advises bringing a big sturdy bag to collect all the loot.

“The parade is a staple of Venice,” Silk says. “We had about 500 children last year and this year we are expecting more.”

Happy Halloween!

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