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The Brooklyn Paper

On Oct. 29, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will again be a sanctuary from things that go bump in the night. For the 14th year in a row, the famed Prospect Heights institution is scaring up its own kind of Halloween excitement, the "Ghouls and Gourds" party, a day-long event for people who prefer a kinder, gentler Halloween.

"We focus more on the quirky, fun and eccentric parts of the holiday," said Anita Jacobs, the garden’s director of public programs. "This is very specifically an event for families and kids."

And it’s not just the kids who get into the fun, said Jacobs. Adults, even those with no little fairy princesses in tow, will find themselves dancing to the beat of the Brazilian drums that lead the costume parade at 3:45 pm.

Even the pumpkins are carved differently at the botanic garden. Thai artists Americanize a vegetable-carving tradition (pictured) and turn out "beautiful sculptures that are unrecognizable as pumpkins," said Jacobs.

That, combined with a carnivorous plant feeding, from 1 pm to 3 pm, by a garden employee in a Morticia Addams costume, and an exhibit of intricate gourd sculptures, makes for a festive time for families who shy away from the blood-soaked, hair-raising horror extravaganza that Halloween has become.

"Halloween has a very intensive energy, and we try to play off of that," said Jacobs. "But this is a safe place for kids, and we want to keep it that way."

"Ghouls and Gourds" will take place on Oct. 29, from noon to 4:30 pm, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway). Activities are free with garden admission ($5 for those age 16 and older and $3 for seniors and students) and will take place rain or shine under a tent on the Cherry Esplanade. For a complete schedule, call (718) 623-7200 or visit

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