By Cole Evans, Reporter
The leaves start to change colors. The winds begin to blow cooler on campus. Sweaters and jackets return to wardrobes around the Midwest. This can only mean one thing – fall is officially here.
For many students, this season is marked by fantasy football, warmer clothing, and the calm before the Nebraska winter. But for some, these seasonal changes are a nightmare – the good kind.
It seems that you can never be too old to be scared. So, in the holiday spirit, the Gateway would like to present a collection of pumpkin patches and haunted houses that offer a ghoulishly good time.
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch located at 12102 South 180th St. in Gretna. It’s Vala’s 28th anniversary this year. But even if you’re as old or older than the pumpkin patch itself, you can still have a frighteningly good time. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting Vala’s, it is the epitome of autumn.
“We’ve been working all year to create a beautiful fall festival, bigger, better and more fun than ever,” Vice-President of Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, Kirsten Vala Fong said. “The sights, sounds and smells, like popping kettle corn, at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch are so iconic to fall and the farm harvest – it’s the perfect outdoor activity for friends and family to enjoy together.”
The smells of kettle corn fills the air, laughter and screams pierce the night, and the orange of pumpkins can be seen all around. Vala’s offers hay rack rides to the pumpkin patch so you can pick out the perfect Jack-O’Lantern pumpkin for your dorm room. Getting lost in the maze, themed “Follow the Magic,” made to look like a castle and dragon, is sure to make plenty of fall memories this year.
This fun is complemented by live shows including the Pigtuckey Derby Pig Races, The Pumpkin Air Cannon & Catapult Launch, the Flying Stunt Dog Show, all of which are sure to be hilarious. For any student organizations looking for a fun fall outing, Vala’s also books campfire sites for parties.
“It’s not too late to book your campfire for a fall get-together,” Fong said. “I think our campfires are amazing opportunities for people to roast weenies together and make s’mores as though they’re in Girl/Boy Scouts again. It’s too much fun to pass up!”
Who doesn’t like s’mores and roasted weenies? Fong also encourages everyone to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep informed about upcoming events and to post how much fun they have at the patch.
Mystery Manor, another spooky spot, is not for the faint of heart. In October of 1929, William and Greta Hall owned the luxurious mansion (then called Hall Manor). On Oct. 23, 1929, with the stock market plummeting, Mr. Hall lost his vast fortune overnight and went into a crazed frenzy, brutally chopping his wife into pieces. A week later, John Martin, Greta’s brother, avenged his sister’s death by giving William the same fate as his wife using the same axe. The next night, Halloween, John’s body was found in the same grave as his sister and brother-in-law with the same axe lodged in his skull. To this day, John’s murder is a mystery and he is still believed to roam the manor.
This mystery inspired the creation of Mystery Manor, a haunted house located on 716 north 18th St. Open on the weekends in September and then all week except Mondays and Tuesdays in October, Mystery Manor is sure to frighten the most experienced of haunted house enthusiasts. Visit their website, mysterymanoromaha.org, to find out more, learn about group rates, and, if you’re brave, check out the catalog of paranormal reports conducted at Mystery Manor.
These frightfully fun locations are just a few ways of getting in the Halloween holiday spirit. Even if you’re in college, you can still enjoy the allure of Halloween and the fall season…if you dare.