Halloween is a wicked crazy time of year! There are pumpkins to be carved, costumes to create, frightening flicks to watch with the lights off, and - as if all that weren't enough to get one's pulse pumping - there are haunted prisons and thrill-inducing amusement park rides to ratchet up the fear factor.

All of these creepy-crawly events are part of an eerie line up of scare-tastic fun scheduled for members of the STC Underground during the month of October. Middle-school and high-school age students can stay close to home and get into the spirit of the season through popular free events. "Scary Movie Madness" nights held on Wednesdays from October 11 through October 25. Watch as killer spiders wreak their havoc in the 1990 release "Arachnophobia" or recoil in - what else, horror - as six young New Yorkers try to flee a giant monster in 2008's "Cloverfield." Munching on popcorn might help tame the tremors. Seasonal delights such as pumpkin carving, drinking cider and toasting pumpkin seeds are part of the festivities during "Fall Fun Day" on Friday, October 27 - a fitting preamble to the big event itself, Halloween, when the annual "Costume Contest" rewards creativity and, yes, spirit during the old-fashioned competition for "Best Costume." The impromptu party will include food, snacks and trick-or-treat candy.

But perhaps nothing says Halloween quite like a spine-tingling haunted house, and the Underground is offering two new field trips to see some of the region's most terrifying examples. The "Great America Fright Fest" on October 14 takes teens to the Six Flags Great America Park in Gurnee for its annual Fright Fest extravaganza of thrilling amusement rides as well as multiple haunted houses and scare zones, such as the post-apocalyptic society of "Underworld." On Friday, October 20, Undergrounders can venture to the "Statesville Haunted Prison" for the scariest haunted house around. Teens will make their way through 23 maximum security cells and come face-to-face with over 100 criminals that have called this notorious prison home.

Fees for both events include round-trip bus transportation and admission. Participants are encouraged to bring money for food at "Great America Fright Fest" and a sack-lunch to eat on the bus to "Statesville Haunted Prison." The cost for the "Great America Fright Fest" is $47 and the "Statesville Haunted Prison" trip is $45.

"These bus trips are great ways for kids to do these fun activities with their friends and the park district makes it easy for parents by letting our staff provide the transportation and supervision," said Darby Beasley, Teen Program and Center Director. "Working parents may not have the time to take their kids to these facilities and this way, kids can go with a group of their friends, which is always a lot of fun."

The STC Underground continues to grow in popularity among St. Charles middle and high school students ages 11 to 19 who reside within the Community Unit School District 303 boundaries. Beasley reported the Underground has more than 1,000 members - a record usership number - and that members have expressed an interest in having more of the kinds of day field trips the Underground offers.

"We're happy the kids are excited about the programs we offer," said Beasley, "and glad that we can assure parents that their kids are able to do fun things that are either no- or low-cost."

For more information about STC Underground's fall programs, contact Darby Beasley at 630-513-4321.