It’s T-minus one week until my favorite day of the year, Halloween! If I had it my way, I’d spend most of October visiting pumpkin farms, going through corn mazes, braving haunted houses, elaborately decorating my own house, re-reading my favorite childhood story, Bunnicula, and watching The Lost Boys while carving a Jack O’Lanterns.

T-minus one week, and sadly, I’ve had time for none of those things. Fall is my favorite time of the year, but since it is also when I add teaching to my already insane schedule, there is hardly any room for fun. However, as someone who watched The Shining practically every weekend in eighth grade (don’t judge, we all had our own ways of coping with middle school), I know all too well that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to play and celebrate Halloween in Forest Park this weekend if, like me, you haven’t taken time to enjoy the season and don’t want to become a psycho killer when the snow falls.

On Friday night, the Chamber of Commerce is celebrating their 100th anniversary with a Masquerade Ball held on both floors of the Park District building. There will be cocktails, appetizers, a costume contest, a grand prize raffle and of course, dancing! Check for ticket info.

If you’re more into the candy side of Halloween, you may wish to go to Centuries and Sleuths on Friday night at 7 p.m. instead. They are hosting author Leslie Goddard, who will be discussing and signing her new book, Chicago’s Sweet Candy History, which includes Forest Park’s own Ferrara Pan.

Personally, I’ll be resting up on Friday-and maybe squeezing in a little pumpkin carving-because I have to cram all of my love for Halloween into one very special day on Saturday. I’m getting up unusually early to dress up as the Forest Park Flapper Ghost. I’ve watched some flapper make-up tutorials online and busted out (and heavily Febrezed) one of my favorite vintage dresses for the occasion, so I hope I’ll do her justice. If you come to Beloit and Madison at 9:30 am, you’ll be able to see for yourself as well as watch the 15 registered caskets race! I’ll be riding in the Centuries and Sleuths casket, which you can already see in the store’s window. It’s a caisson from Napoleonic era that my husband helped build so I am particularly proud and beyond eager to take part in what I hope will become another unique Forest Park tradition.

Following the casket races, trick or treating on Madison will commence for costumed kids. Centuries and Sleuths will be hosting another appropriately creepy signing at 2 pm, this time with Gillian Flynn, the bestselling author of Gone Girl. (Note there is a $5 signing fee for books not purchased at Centuries and Sleuths.) A special Ghoulin’ in the Grove at 3 pm features a costume contest, bags competition, and duck races in addition to a free outdoor concert.

I’d also like to invite anyone over 21 to my party at the Beacon Pub at 8 pm. We’ll judge your costumes and (pre-carved!) pumpkins at 10 pm while you sip on the freakishly green cocktail I’ve invented. Busy as this fall has been, this is one personal tradition I love too much to give up, especially since thanks to the Casket Races, I already have a costume.

Yes, I’ll be up for roughly 20 hours on Saturday, but all of that Halloween fun will be worth it and keep me sane as winter approaches.

Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site