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The 10 Most Epic College Halloween Celebrations


They say that acceptance is the first step to recovery, so we’re just going to say it: we are too old for trick-or-treating. Instead of running around our neighborhoods with bags full of Kit Kat bars and Twizzlers, we have upgraded to dressing up as provocative animals (à la Mean Girls) and partying on frat row. However, some campuses beat most colleges’ Halloween-themed frat parties with some seriously awesome traditions. Don’t believe us? Check out these 10 spooky celebrations, ranked in order of epicness.

10. Harvey Mudd College’s Halloweiner 

Imagine if your two favorite holidays—tailgating season (which basically is one holiday) and Halloween—joined forces to create an out-of-this-world celebration. At Harvey Mudd College, that fantasy is a reality. To start off their Halloween festivities with a bang, students barbeque hundreds (yes, hundreds) of pounds of meat for the entire student body. Halloweiner is basically a tailgate for this highly anticipated holiday.

9. SUNY Geneseo’s Halloweekend

Every collegiette knows that Halloween is no longer a one-night extravaganza, but at SUNY Geneseo, Halloweekend is more than a slew of frat parties. The festivities start with students rooting for their school’s hockey team… in costume. 

“Freshman year, my guy friends went as Braveheart in full kilts and school-colored face paint a la Mel Gibson,” says Megan Killea, a graduate of SUNY Geneseo. “My girlfriends and I went as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

The celebration continues with a street fair on Geneseo’s Main Street, which includes a Halloween parade as well as cider donuts—be still, our hearts. 

“Even the college kids come out to see it,” adds Megan. “They get their daily dose of nostalgia and innocence before they go home and start pregaming in their costumes.” Meshed with a plethora of Halloween–themed parties, what could be better?

8. UNC-Chapel Hill’s Celebration on Franklin Street

Parades are one thing, but not many towns shut down an entire street to celebrate Halloween. Franklin Street, which is right by UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, is one of the coolest places to be on this frightful night. On Halloween night, the town of Chapel Hill blocks off Franklin Street so college students and residents can roam the empty street. Translation? You and your friends can dress up in crazy costumes and have a few drinks (if you’re of legal age, that is).

“I've heard that it's so popular that other schools in North Carolina send busloads of students to Chapel Hill that night, although I know the police department has tried to discourage that,” says Alex Gladu, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and HC’s Life Editor. 

According to the town of Chapel Hill’s website, this event attracts anywhere from 30,000 people (in 2013) to a whopping 80,000 attendees (in 2007). Between the large traffic this celebration receives and the ghoulish Halloween spirit, it’s no surprise that authorities have tightened up security. In 2008, Town Manager Roger L. Stancil initiated Homegrown Halloween, which strives to reduce crowd sizes and keep Franklin Street safe.

Since safety comes first and foremost, don’t be surprised if this street-wide celebration closes early or there are a lot of police officers patrolling the area—not just cute frat boys dressed up as cops!

7. Pennsylvania State University’s Pumpkin Festival

From selecting the perfect pumpkin at the patch to sketching out a spooky design to cooking pumpkin seeds, creating a jack-o’-lantern is arguably one of the best parts of Halloween. Penn State recognizes just how important carving a pumpkin is, and has dedicated a weeklong celebration to the cause. Though this event is only two years old, this annual collection of jack-o’-lantern festivities merits a spot on our coveted list. 

“It’s nice that Penn State and the surrounding community of State College is offering an alternative way to celebrate the holiday rather than just by drinking,” says Erica Kasan, a senior at Penn State. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 21, Halloween can still be celebrated by everyone in a safe and fun [manner].”

In addition to refreshments, music and crafts, this school’s pumpkin festival also features a pumpkin carving competition. For a very retro twist, winners are rewarded with old-fashioned ribbons. Festive and nostalgic, a good ole carving competition is impossible to resist. 

6. MIT’s Pumpkin Drop

Unless you have a knack for parabolas or physics, your ideal pre-Halloween extravaganza probably doesn’t include solving mathematical equations. But what if we told you that MIT’s highly academic event includes smashing frozen pumpkins? Um, what?

Just a few days before Halloween, students and friends watch a select group of classmates drop pumpkins off of the campus’s Green Building, which is 295 feet high. Participants are required to calculate which conditions would make the biggest splash—pun intended. After considering the height, velocity and other factors, these pumpkin smashers are required to put their calculations to the test. Whether or not you have an aptitude for science, how epic does exploding pumpkins sound?

5. UCLA’s All-Hill Halloween

While Halloween frat parties sound fun, they’re all missing one thing: candy. We may be too old to go door to door and beg for candy, but that doesn’t mean we have to outgrow the trick-or-treating spirit. Every year, more than 2,500 elementary and middle schoolers are invited to trick-to-treat all around UCLA’s campus. Instead of going from house to house, attendees go from dorm to dorm. How cute! 

“UCLA has always been big about giving back to the community, and All-Hill Halloween is a great example of that,” says Ekta Partani, a senior at UCLA and a HC Campus Correspondent. “It gives these kids a chance to have a safe and fun Halloween. Plus it's absolutely adorable to see all the kids running around in their costumes!”

And when you’re stocking up on delicious sweets for your trick-or-treaters, grab a bag of Hershey’s Kisses for yourself—you deserve it.

4. Georgetown University’s Healy Howl

“Did you know that [insert movie here] was shot at this school?” asks almost every campus tour guide ever. At this point, we feel like we know it all: tidbits of 21 were filmed at Boston University, Johns Hopkins University made a cameo in The Social Network and The Five-Year Engagement was set at the University of Michigan. But did you know that parts of The Exorcist were filmed at Georgetown University? In fact, collegiettes and collegents gather every Halloween to watch the 1973 film on Copley Lawn or in Gaston Hall. 

"Watching The Exorcist in Gaston Hall is something that every Georgetown student should do at least once before they graduate,” says Lacey Henry, a senior at Georgetown University and HC Campus Correspondent. “It will definitely make you think twice before using the infamous Exorcist stairs on your way down to M Street!"

Since the movie ends around midnight, students then go to the campus’s cemetery and howl at the moon when the clock strikes 12. Spooky.

3. Texas A&M’s Wicked Woods Haunted Trail

It sounds like something out of a horror movie: a group of fun-loving collegiettes take a spontaneous trip into the woods… only to discover there’s a crazed killer or supernatural creature on the loose who is out to get them. Texas A&M’s Kappa Sigma chapter is set to recreate this horrifying scene for the eighteenth year. And let’s just say this is more epic than your run-of-the-mill fraternity fundraiser. Texas A&M’s student newspaper, The Battalion, reports that this event takes months of preparation, and more than 4,000 people attend the festivities. As the fifth largest haunted trail/house in Texas, according to the fraternity’s website, this scary walk takes attendees through five acres of backwoods. Can we say scariest 15 minutes of our lives?

But before you chicken out of attending this event, don’t forget that this has a philanthropic motive. Proceeds from this fundraiser go to various charitable organizations. If it’s for charity, perhaps we can charge through this trail!

2. University of Rochester’s Scare Fair 

To be perfectly honest, libraries give us the creeps: anxiety-inducing aisles, fluorescent lights and the very slim chance that a secret passageway will open as soon as you grab that book off the shelf all make us a little freaked out. So it makes perfect sense that the University of Rochester hosts its famed Scare Fair at Rush Rhees, the school’s main library. For more than 80 years, Rush Rhees has been transformed into a haunted house, which also features a scavenger hunt. And let’s just say the prize is a lot cooler than a gift card to your favorite on-campus burrito restaurant.

“Winners get to go up the old, usually restricted elevators and take a tour of Rush Rhees tower,” says Katherine Varga, a senior at the University of Rochester. “This includes walking around on the dome that overlooks campus and parts of Rochester, [which is] a big deal [because] the only other time people are allowed up there is during Senior Week.” 

If spooky scavenger hunts aren’t your thing, the Scare Fair has also been known to display spiders and snakes from the Seneca Park Zoo, as well as some bands from the university. Spooky, but amazing.

1. Ohio University’s Halloween Block Party 

You probably attended several block parties when you were growing up, but Ohio University’s spooky variation puts your cul-de-sac’s soiree to shame (but we’re sure your neighborhood’s version of a block party was just lovely). Located in Athens, Ohio, right by this party school’s campus, this festivity is like a costume party for you and 20,000 of your coolest friends. This year, Athens’s annual event is set to have food and art vendors as well as live music. Though the block party is a great time to get dressed up and hang out with your friends, it can get a little wild. 

“Our school paper always reports the number of arrests on the front page of [the next day’s issue], and the majority of them are kids who are visiting from other schools who just wanted to get rowdy,” says Madelyn Gaither, a recent graduate from Ohio University. In 2012, The Athens Messenger reported that 80 attendees were arrested, many for alcohol-related reasons. If you decide to pack your bags and head to Ohio this year, be careful—having a rap sheet is so not collegiette-approved.


Does your school have a totally epic Halloween tradition? Sound off below!

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