A year ago, three Arts Alliance members were chatting at Kribi Coffee about the Scarecrow Project that was coming up a few weeks later, when Rick Wagner declared, “Forest Park should own Halloween.”

And they do.

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Forest Park has 800,000 “residents” buried in our cemeteries, and it made sense to exploit that distinction to promote Forest Park’s cultural scene and businesses.

A growing number of organizations and businesses are taking the concept and running with it. There’s no way to miss Halloween this year.

D91 magic school bus vs Public Works. Casket races 2022. Credit: Jill Wagner


This year, the marquee event is again the Casket Races sponsored by the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and scheduled for October 21. According to Laurie Kokenes, the Chamber’s Executive Director, the event draws 1,000 people to Forest Park and was first held in 2012. Trophies, custom made by members of the Arts Alliance, will be awarded to the first, second and third place finishers as well as the team that comes in “dead last” — as well as for the most frightfully funny and creepiest caskets. It’s held at Beloit Avenue between Madison & Adams. 

Children dressed up in their Halloween costumes watch the races on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, during the 6th annual Forest Park Chamber of Commerce Casket Races on Beloit Avenue, south of Madison Street in Forest Park, Ill. (ALEX ROGALS)


The races will be followed by “Trick or Treat on Madison Street,” when parents can bring the kids around to businesses that will be giving out Halloween treats. The Chamber of Commerce is also sponsoring an “Adopt a Halloween Flower Pot” program to replace the flowers planted by the Public Works Department with Halloween-themed creations and is selling Casket Race t-shirts online. Kokenes pitched the possible holiday gift by saying, “Every living soul will want one.

Children got a jump on Halloween when the Forest Park Public Library held a trick-or-treat event in the Austin Room. | William Camargo


Here’s a partial list of programs offered at the Forest Park Public Library.

Programs for Adults

  • Pumpkin Carving Techniques, Sunday, Oct. 15, 7p.m.
  • Detecting Internet Dangers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2 p.m.

Programs for Kids/Families 

  • Creature Feature: Hocus Pocus 2, Friday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m.
  • Nightmare Before Christmas, Monday, Oct. 23, 4 p.m.
  • Monster Mast Storytime and Costume Parade, Friday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.

Programs for Teens

  • Feature Film: Beetlejuice Friday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m.
  • Hive Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 3 – 6 p.m.
Scarecrow Invasion 2022


The Arts Alliance and the Historical Society predict that the number of scarecrows invading Forest Park will top 300, counting the scarecrows already purchased in years past and the 100 which are being sold this fall. Go to WWW.FORESTPARKHISTORY.ORG for more information about the program and the availability of kits. There will be prizes for winners in four categories: Most Historic, Most Artistic, People’s Choice, and Forest Park Pride.


A bike tour sponsored by the Historical Society of Forest Park and the Forest Park Fine Arts Alliance will begin at noon Oct. 22 at the Mohr Community Center at 7640 Jackson Boulevard. Riders will check out many of the scarecrows that have invaded Forest Park. 


Saturday, Oct. 21, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. discussion and book signing with four authors:

  • Lori Reader-Day, Death of Us
  • Jess Lourey, The Taken Ones
  • Erica Ruth Neubauer, Intrigue in Istanbul
  • Tony Wirt, Just Stay Away

Sunday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m.

  •  Emily LeBeau Lucchesi, A Light in the Dark

   Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m. 

  • Kathleen Anne Fleming, A Menacing Luster


Sends out thia message, “Bring your little goblins and ghouls for pumpkin decorating and Halloween fun. Wear your costumes and enjoy snacks and prizes all afternoon.” Saturday, Oct. 21, 2 – 4 p.m.

Kids go around collecting treats on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, during the Trunk-or-Treat event outside Roos Recreation Center in Forest Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS


Instead (or in addition to) going door to door on Halloween, decorate the trunk of your family car, park it at the park and pass out treats on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is required to ensure a parking spot: https://bit.ly/PDoFPTrunkOrTreat


D91 has a team in the casket races. They also do a “spooky bus decoration” event with parents and then take the bus to the Park District for the Trunk and Treat event on Oct 28. In addition, classroom parties, costume parades and movie night are held at the individual schools.