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-treating times and related events for communities in the South Hills:
Baldwin Borough -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Baldwin Township -- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; the township Halloween parade will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. Oct. 27, beginning at the municipal building, ending at the Armstrong Park pavilion, where children will get trick or treat bags.
Bethel Park -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Brentwood -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Castle Shannon -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the Community Library of Castle Shannon will stage a four-block Halloween parade at 2 p.m. Oct. 27, beginning and ending at the library. Treats and prizes will be available at the end of the parade, when the of the library's pumpkin decorating contest for all ages will be announced. Contest applications are available at the library.
Allentown, Beechview, Brookline, Carrick, Knoxville, Overbrook -- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31
Clairton -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; treat bags will be given to children from 5 to 6 p.m. at the municipal building.
Dravosburg -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade begins at 5 p.m. at the borough building, with treats and prizes for the best costumes. To register for the parade: 412-466-5200.
Dormont -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Elizabeth Borough -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Market and Second avenues, and children will receive treats. Rain date for the parade is Oct. 30.
Elizabeth Township -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade begins at 5 p.m. at Elizabeth Forward Middle School and ends at the municipal building, where treats will be distributed.
Forward -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; township supervisors also will hand out candy during that time at the municipal building.
Glassport -- 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26; a parade for children up to age 12 will step off at 12:30 p.m. at Huntington National Bank, Sixth and Monongahela avenues and end at the Honor Roll. Treats will be distributed and judging for prizes will be held.
Green Tree -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade sponsored by American Legion Post 823 will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 27 at the fire hall. The even is for Green Tree children only and will include a magic show, pumpkin-carving contest, treats and costume judging with prizes.
Homestead -- 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Jefferson Hills -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Liberty -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Sceneridge and Riveridge drives, followed by a costume contest with prizes.
Lincoln -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31; children may stop by the municipal building from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29 for a safety light and treat.
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.
Mt. Lebanon -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade for children and adults will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26, starting at Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, going through the Washington Road business district and ending at Washington Elementary School. After the parade, children can go trick-or-treating in Washington Road businesses that have orange "Trick or Treat'' signs in store windows. Registration is required to march in the parade: 412-343-3409 or at www.mtlebanon.org.
Mount Oliver -- 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26; an event called Crank it at the Clock with free food, games and music will begin at 4 p.m. at the clock tower on Brownsville Road.
Munhall -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; lineup for a parade will begin at 3 p.m. Oct. 26 at First Commonwealth Bank at Roberta and Main streets, concluding at the No. 4 volunteer fire department.
Peters -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a Boo Bash for ages 3-12 will be sponsored by the township recreation department from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 26 at 700 Meredith Drive in Venetia. The event will include crafts, games and snacks; costumes are encouraged. Cost: $5 for residents, $8 for nonresidents.
Pittsburgh -- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. next Thursday.
Pleasant Hills -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; the annual Lions Club Halloween parade will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 29. Participants should arrive at 6:30 p.m. at Audrey Drive next to Pleasant Hills Presbyterian Church.
Port Vue -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at the borough building.
Scott Township -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; three neighborhood parades will be held Oct. 26: Chartiers Terrace, 1 to 2:30 p.m.; Glendale, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Birdland, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. A parade will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 27 on Orchard Spring Road.
South Fayette -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
South Park Township -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a parade will begin assembling at 1 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Bavarian Shopping Center on Brownsville Road and will end at the municipal complex on Brownsville, where a party will be held.
South Versailles -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Upper St. Clair -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Versailles -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
West Elizabeth -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
West Homestead -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; children should gather at 5:30 p.m. at the fire hall on West Eighth Avenue for treats and costume judging.
West Mifflin -- 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31; a party for West Mifflin children to age 12 will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Oct.26 at West Mifflin High School.
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.
Whitehall -- 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Whitaker -- 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31
-- Compiled by freelance writer Margaret Smykla