What To Do: Celebrate Fall without being scary

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

While Halloween might be first and foremost in many minds this weekend, there are less scary, more relaxed ways to enjoy your fall weekend. Of course, for those of you who enjoy some scary good fun, we have an entire rundown of Halloween events in the area, here.

Autumn weather seems to have finally arrived and now is the time to take advantage of what the fall season has to offer – anything other than pumpkin-flavored everything.

A nice option for enjoying autumn’s annual color display is to ride a special excursion on an area tourist railroad.

The West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233, www.westchesterrr.net) is running its special “Fall Foliage Express” trains on November 5 and 12 with departures at noon and 2 p.m.

The round-trip train ride travels to the village of Glen Mills and back and lasts for 90 minutes. During the brief layover in Glen Mills, riders can explore the historic Pennsylvania Railroad station and have a snack in the railroad’s picnic grove along the Chester Creek.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for children ages 2-12 and free for kids under two.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, DE, 302-998-1930, www.wwrr.com) is running its “Autumn Leaf Special” with trains on October 28 and November 4 and 5.

Trips are either a one-and-one-half hour roundtrip to the Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove or two-and-one-half hour roundtrips to Hockessin.

The W&WRR also is running its “Hayride Express” on October 27 and November 10 at 7 p.m. Visitors can experience a one-hour evening ride through the Red Clay Valley on an original railroad flatcar converted especially for hayrides.

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 West Bridge St, New Hope, 215- 862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) offers a two-and-one-half hour, 35-mile roundtrip ride on its “Fall Foliage Trains” now through October 29.

Every weekend, the rail line in Bucks County will operate regularly scheduled round trip trains out of New Hope Station and SEPTA’s Warminster station.

Passengers can enjoy the sights of the beautiful fall scenery while riding aboard the rail line’s “First Class Bar Car,” “Antique Seat Coach” or “Open Air Car.” Coach tickets are $48.95 for adults, $46.95 for children (ages 2-11) and $9.95 for toddlers.

Chrysanthemum Festival

This is the time of year when nature’s colors go through a shift. The bright colors of summer’s flowers are beginning to disappear and are being replaced by the autumnal colors of changing leaves. The only plants that really hang on and continue to have flowers are hardy pansies, which can bloom all winter long, and chrysanthemums, which are primarily autumn flowers.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) celebrates the popular autumnal flower with its annual Chrysanthemum Festival every year in October and November.

The 36th Annual Chrysanthemum Festival, which runs now through November 19, is a top-flight exhibit featuring more than 20,000 colorful, blooming chrysanthemums in Longwood’s huge conservatory.

Longwood’s horticulturalists have grown and developed the mums into a variety of unusual forms. They have groomed chrysanthemums to resemble clouds, torches, spirals, fans, 13-foot arches and more. The stars of the show are Longwood Gardens’ “Thousand Bloom” mums.

The Thousand Bloom (known in Japan as Ozukuri) is the most exacting and difficult of all the Chrysanthemum training styles. It derives its name for the ambitious goal of a single chrysanthemum plant producing 1,000 perfect blooms.

The method for growing the Thousand Bloom originated in China and Japan more than 200 years ago. It is a dying art form with only a few growers in the entire world skilled in the techniques needed to grow this special plant.

This year, Longwood has the largest chrysanthemum outside of Asia on display. Grown at Longwood, the plant is expected to produce over 1,500 perfectly placed, uniform blooms on one plant.

Regular admission to Longwood Gardens is $23 for adults, $20 for seniors (62+) and $12 for students (ages 5-18).

On October 26, Salt & Stone (125 East State Street, Kennett Square, www.saltandstoneksq.com) is celebrating Dia de los Muertos with an evening of mystical and magical fun. Many of the Kennett Square East End merchants will also participate in the fun.

The event will feature tarot card readings, Day of the Dead folk art from Mexico, henna, Sugar Skulls handmade locally and an array of shopping attractions.

Other East End Merchants will join in the celebration by offering the following — Marché: Marigold seeds (a Dia de los Muertos tradition) and spicy tequila margarita; Green Eyed Lady: Dead Guy Ale, Blood Orange Martinis and a collection of ghoulish accessories; Alexis Kletjian Jewelry: Lovely wine and spooky inspired fine jewels; April Heather Art: Gorgeous Dia de los Muertos inspired illustrations; Kennett Brewing Company: Costume Party ($1 off if in costume!) with music by The Sermon.

On October 28 and 29, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 215-299-1000, www.ansp.org) is hosting its annual Philadelphia Shell Show.

Billed as “The largest show of its kind in the Northeast,” the event features competitive displays by collectors and amateur scientists.

It also provides visitors with the opportunity to participate in mollusk dissections, make crafts, shop an international shell market, and go behind the scenes to see some of the 10 million specimens in the Academy’s Malacology Collection (which is the third largest in the world).

Tickets for the event are $17.95 for adults and $13.95 for children (ages 3–13).

This weekend, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Road, Oaks, 610-529-3614, www.phillyexpocenter.com) will host the Empowered Light Holistic Expo.

The show’s hours are 5-9 p.m. on October 26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on October 27 and 28.

The list of attractions at the expo includes inspirational lectures and workshops, meditations, massage, reiki, reflexology, healthy food samples, natural products for personal and home care, Yoga classes, social community, sound healing, dance classes, and hourly prizes.

Some of the featured speakers this weekend will be Corey Goode, John van Auken, Ataana and Professor Semir “Dr. Sam” Osmanagich.

Admission is $7.50 on Friday and $15 on Saturday or Sunday.

On October 26, Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, http://muttermuseum.org/) will host its “Third Annual Mischief Party” – an event that allows guests to enjoy drinks from an open bar and view the museum’s scientific and frequently grotesque collections – including a variety of body parts.

Visitors can enjoy the Halloween beer garden which includes full access to the Mütter Museum, a DJ in Thomson Hall, specialty kegs from Crooked Eye Brewery, and unlimited complimentary beer, wine, and snacks with your ticket. Costumes strongly encouraged!

Visitors also have the option to upgrade to the VIP experience for a night that includes a sampling of 13 tasty courses of food.

UniverSoul Circus

The UniverSoul Circus (52nd Street and Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia, 800-345-7000, www.universoulcircus.com), which opens on November 2, will be treating circus fans to a very different experience.

The new circus’ performances, which will be held in the UniverSoul Big Top next to the Mann Music Center, blend traditional circus attractions with urban culture, hip hop tunes and world beat music. It’s the lively music that elevates the show to another level.

The UniverSoul Circus is a world-class, live entertainment attraction that has captured the hearts and imaginations of a new generation of families.

Celebrating its 21st Anniversary, UniverSoul Circus has come full circle in its influence in the international entertainment marketplace – garnering the distinction of being known as a one-of-a-kind, must see attraction.

Since its first performance in 1994, The UniverSoul Circus has presented more than 10,000 performances to live audiences, exceeding 19 million people, and has been seen in more than 60 million households on both local and national television networks. The Emmy-nominated HBO special remained in rotation for more than six years.
UniverSoul connects with progressive, upwardly mobile, urban pop cultures from around the world. It embraces and celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities into a stellar production that blends circus arts, theater and music.
Celebrating 22 years under the big top, UniverSoul Circus features music, theatrical performances, incredible circus acts and loads of fun. The show features acts from around the world including flashy Caribbean dancers, acrobats and high-flying trapeze artists, mind-boggling contortionists, funny clowns, lions, zebras and much more.

The circus will be in town from November 2-26 at its site in Fairmount Park. Ticket prices start at $11.

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