Got an easily frightened first-grader and a tough-as-nails high-schooler? Trying to entertain both of them for Halloween? There are two options. Drop the teen off on Swiss Avenue and let him ravage the neighborhood, then take the little one to trick-or-treat until dusk. Or just throw them both in the Suburban and wheel your way over to the Creative Arts Theater & School's annual Haunted Theater. CATS makes it easy for beleaguered parents to entertain two age groups at one stop, because it offers two completely different shows in one place. One early for the more timid youngsters with famous characters from children's stories and plays, then another later for the braver souls in the family aimed to terrify in all kinds of hideously grotesque ways. Both shows run October 24 to October 26 and October 30 to November 1. The mature show times are 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Kids' shows are 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Creative Arts Theater & School is located at 1100 W. Randol Mill Road in Arlington. Tickets are $8 at the door, and coupons can be found online. Call 817-861-2287 or visit www.creativearts.org. --Mary Monigold
Wind Beneath Their Wings
No complimentary champagne. No hot towels. No in-flight movies. No oxygen masks. Not even a chauffeured limo service or a skycap. Just a windchill of 4 degrees and an icy northeaster greeted the Wright brothers on the morning of December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The longest the Wright Flyer was in the air that day was 59 seconds, and even the most skilled, efficient flight attendant would be hard-pressed to serve a three-course meal in that amount of time. You may not want to pilot a 700-pound biplane (tiny, considering that today's commercial planes have maximum takeoff weights of more than 800,000 pounds), especially in the biting cold and with 30 mph gusts, but, hey, you can at least simulate it at the Science Place. A hand lever, throttle and "horizontal hip cradle" help brave patrons control the Microsoft 1903 Wright Flyer Simulator in front of a panoramic projection screen. Even if you do crash and burn, you'll walk away without a scratch. Take to the skies at the Science Place, 1318 Second Ave. in Fair Park, October 23 through November 2. Exhibit hall admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for senior citizens and $4 for kids 3 to 12. Call 214-428-5555. --Michelle Martinez
Not on the list of kids' daily requirements: a smidge of Romantic morbidity. But they'll get that, plus culture and fright, for the rest of this month and into November when the Dallas Children's Theater stages its production of Frankenstein for the advancement of Dallas' 10-and-up crowd. Performances are at Baker Theater in the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman St. The show runs from October 24 through November 9. Tickets are $13 for children and $15 for adults. Call 214-978-0110. --Mary Monigold
For every kid who just wanted to skip the scary stuff and get straight to the candy, the Dallas Zoo's Boo at the Zoo event is perfect. It's a non-scary affair designed for kids 12 and under with trick-or-treating, a bounce house, music and more. Come on out, but don't share Snickers with the lions. It gives them indigestion. It's October 25 and October 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is included in the price of admission, which is $8 for adults, $5 for children and $4 for seniors. Call 214-670-5656. --Mary Monigold
A bat fan takes to wing
Please repeat the following out loud: Bats are not rats with wings. Bats are not evil. It's highly unlikely that a bat will give you rabies. Bats are beneficial bug-eaters. Bats are quite attractive, and some have charming personalities.What's that you say? We had you up until that last one? Obviously, you've never had a chance to meet "The Batlady," Jan MacLaughlin. Well, get over your squeamishness and haul yourself and your little ones out to the Dallas Museum of Natural History in Fair Park, where MacLaughlin will set the record straight on all things Chiroptera-related from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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MacLaughlin is a devoted friend of the bat, and we do mean devoted. MacLaughlin rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned bats.
"You know, it's in the eye of the beholder," MacLaughlin says of bats' reputation for being kinda butt-ugly. "You see them in an entirely different way when you get up close and personal."
For most, up close and personal with a bat usually involves waving arms and shouts of "aiee! rabies!" and "not in my hair!" But MacLaughlin insists that bats get a bum rap; the incidence of rabies among wild bats is less than 0.5 percent, and bats do not "carry" rabies any more than other mammals do. The bats she nurses back to health have distinct personalities, some friendly, some cranky, all valuable.
MacLaughlin and some of her winged pals will be ready to dispel those and other bat-related myths during the museum's Bat Discovery Day, which also includes bat crafts, Halloween snacks and a costume contest for kids age 12 and under. --Patrick Williams