It's the haunting time, all right. Straddling a line between fall and winter -- and the plenty of harvest and paucity of winter -- Halloween is a time of both superstition and celebration.
And it's frighteningly fun.
Scholars agree that the celebration originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off spirits. Then in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints; the resulting holiday, All Saints' Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows' Eve, which morphed into Halloween.
Over time, Halloween has evolved into a secular, community-based event marked by child- and family-friendly activities, such as wearing costumes, trick-or-treating for treats, pumpkin carving, parades and parties.
Here is a list of trick-or-treat times and related events for communities in the East:
Braddock -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31
Churchill -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
East McKeesport -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the borough's Halloween parade for residents age 12 and younger will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 27. Participants should meet at 1:45 p.m. at the post office. The parade will travel to the senior citizens center for treats and prizes. Registration required: 412-824-2531.
East Pittsburgh -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; "trunk-or-treating," in which treats are distributed from decorated car trunks, will be held at the same time at the community center on Bessemer Street.
Edgewood -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade for children age 8 and younger will be sponsored by the C.C. Mellor Memorial Library at 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the library, 1 Pennwood Ave. Participants must register: 412-731-0909.
Forest Hills -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
McKeesport -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a zombie walk for middle and high school students will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 25 in the main pavilion in Renziehausen Park. Participants are encouraged to wear zombie costumes. Food and beverages will be served. A parade for preschool through age 12 will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 26; youngsters should gather at the tennis courts in Renziehausen Park for the start of the parade. Pumpkins will be decorated, and Mayor Michael Cherepko will read a Halloween story. Food and beverages will be served.
Monroeville -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; Halloween Fun Family Night, sponsored by the recreation department, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at Monroeville Community Park West, 2399 Tilbrook Road. The event will include creepy activities for all ages, arts and crafts, a contest for previously carved pumpkins, costume judging, hayrides and refreshments.
North Braddock -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; a fall festival will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the park across from the municipal building.
North Versailles -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the township's annual Halloween celebration -- a haunted hayride -- will be held at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 24 on Route 48. The event will include treats and costume and pumpkin-carving contests, with judging at 7:30 p.m. Children younger than age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets: $4.50. Details: 412-823-6602, ext. 104, or l email@example.com.
Oakmont -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Penn Hills -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; arts, crafts and games for children will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Penn Hills Community Park pavilion. A parade will follow from 1 to 2:30 p.m., beginning in the park at Colorado Street.
Pittsburgh -- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. next Thursday.
Plum -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Swissvale -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; children taking part in the Halloween parade should gather at 11:45 a.m. Oct. 26 at Woodstock Avenue. Treats will be provided at the end of the parade.
Trafford -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
Verona -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will begin at 11 a.m. Oct. 26 at the municipal building on East Railroad Avenue.
Wall -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
White Oak -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will begin forming at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 26 at White Oak Elementary School at Auld Street and California Avenue. The parade will end at the school, where treats and prizes for costumes will be distributed.
Wilkinsburg -- 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade for children ages 12 and younger also will begin at 5 p.m. at the municipal building, 605 Ross Ave., followed by a party in the third-floor auditorium of the municipal building.
Wilkins Township -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Wilmerding -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a costume contest for ages 10 and younger will be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at the borough building, 310 Station St. Registration begins at 5 p.m.
Derry Borough -- Trick-or-treating begins immediately after the 3 p.m. parade Oct. 26 and ends at 7 p.m.; the parade will be held downtown, stepping off on East Second Street.
Derry Township -- 3 to 7 p.m. Oct. 26
Export -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 on Main Street, with parade registration beginning at 5 p.m. at the fire hall.
Greensburg -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade, led by the Greensburg-Salem Band, begins at 5:30 p.m. at Lynch Field. Lineup is at 5:15 p.m.
Hempfield -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
Irwin -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 26 on Main Street.
Jeannette -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 on Clay Avenue.
Latrobe -- 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 26; children are asked to gather at 3 p.m. at Ligonier and Weldon streets for a parade sponsored by the Latrobe Lions Club.
Mount Pleasant Borough -- 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27; a parade will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at Eagle and Main streets, with lineup at 6:30 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Township -- 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27.
Murrysville -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the 48th Annual Halloween Parade presented by the Rotary Club of Murrysville-Export will begin at 11 a.m. Oct. 26 in the Mother of Sorrows Church parking lot, where registration begins at 10:30 a.m.
North Irwin -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
North Huntingdon -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Penn Township -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a costume parade for children and adults, sponsored by the township business association, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at Warrior Stadium. Registration required: 724-744-4074.
Scottdale -- 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 27; a parade for children and adults begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in Loucks Park, with lineup at 6:30 p.m. A costume contest will follow the parade.
South Greensburg -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will step off at 5 p.m. at the American Legion at Huff Avenue and Broad Street, ending at the fire department on Poplar Street.
Southwest Greensburg -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the fire department parade for all ages begins at 1 p.m. Oct. 26, with registration beginning at noon in front of the Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School on Welty Street. Treats will be distributed afterward.
West Newton -- Trick-or-treating begins immediately after a 1 p.m. parade Oct. 26 and ends at 5 p.m.; the parade for children begins at the West Newton Lions Club, 515 Pittsburgh St.
Unity -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Youngstown -- 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30; a parade for children and adults will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church.
Youngwood -- Trick-or-treating begins immediately after a 6:30 p.m. parade Oct. 31 and ends at 8:30 p.m.; the parade will begin at Christ United Methodist Church and end at Fourth and Chestnut streets.
-- Compiled by freelance writer Margaret Smykla