What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Halloween? For me it’s obvious — Forest Park! Why? I can give you about 800,000 reasons. With a population of about 14,000, Forest Park has something like 56 to 1 dead versus living residents. 

Those numbers vary depending on your search, but they are impressive even at 30 to 1. Back in the day, we were often referred to as “The Village of Cemeteries.” Now there’s a claim to fame! Of course, if you live, shop, work, dine or play in Forest Park, you already know we are so much more.

With that bit of history, there should be plenty to do here in October … and there is. It’s safe to say that Forest Park owns Halloween, especially on Oct. 26 when we host the Casket Races. Fortunately, our sinister census relieves me of the burden of explaining why on earth we have a casket race.

If you Google coffin or casket races, the Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Colorado pop up along with the Chamber’s Forest Park Flapper Ghost Casket Races and some great videos of both events. If those videos don’t spark your competitive spirit enough to start building your ride now, they most certainly will convince you to join in the fun as a spectator.

Here’s what’s happening on Oct. 26: The family-friendly Casket Races will be held on Beloit Avenue between Madison & Adams with the first race starting at 11 a.m.  for your favorite team, rock out to creepy classics played by the Windy City Hitman (the official Casket Race DJ), and delight in watching the kids and pets parade and costume contest. After the races, trick or treat with the kids on Madison Street, then head to the park district for Trunk or Treat from 2 to 4 p.m.

After dark, grab your friends and get decked out in your favorite Zombie garb and join us for the creepiest pub-crawl this side of the grave.  

Wander Madison Street from 8 p.m. till midnight, in search of some blood curdling drink specials and other Halloween fun. Check out the Chamber’s Facebook page @forestparkchamber for event details.

Visit some of Forest Park’s famous gravesites at the Historical Society’s Haymarket Monument/Radical Row Tour on Oct. 5. Find out more at www.forestparkhistory.org.

For kids 5 and under, the library is hosting Monster Mash Storytime at the Community Center on Oct. 25 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Register now at https://bit.ly/2miC5AL to ensure your space.

After all that fun, you’re bound to get hungry. Not to worry. There’s no shortage of dining options. Grab a bite to eat at your favorite spot, or try something new.

Happy Halloween, Forest Park!

Laurie Kokenes is executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce & Development.