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When most people think of fall, they think of the smell of wood smoke in the crisp night air, brightly colored red and orange leaves lazily abandoning tree branches, and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Although Halloween began as a pre-Christian Celtic festival over 2,000 years ago, the tradition of going house to house for food while costumed dates back to the 16th century in Great Britain and the 1920s in the United States. However, the times of unchaperoned children running through neighborhoods until all hours is long gone. In its place some families have opted for fall festivals, neighborhood activities, and church socials. These family-focused community activities have come to provide wonderful alternatives (or additions) to the age-old one-day glut of sweets for the kids.

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One way for families to experience harvest time on a farm without the hard work is to attend one of the many fall festivals in the area. One of the most popular in Metro Washington D.C. is located right here in Centreville. Cox Farms offers a daytime extravaganza that includes slides for all ages, a petting zoo, live music, straw climbing attractions and tunnels, hayrides, a kiddie zone, a hands-on tractor museum, plenty of food, and hot cider. Admission prices change based on the day of the week and time of the year, but children under the age of two are always free. Admission includes the pumpkin or gourd of your choice as you exit.

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Linda Sperling, a Little Rocky Run mom of two boys, started an annual family tradition to visit Cox Farms during the Fall Festival. “I love it there. There’s so much to do for kids of any age. When we first went two years ago, my older son had so much fun sliding down the giant slide with my husband. Now my son is at the age where he wants to go by himself, but the memory of him and his dad on that slide, laughing their heads off, is what I see first in my mind each year when I see that same slide.”

This year’s Fall Festival at Cox Farms is open daily through November 6, 2018. There is still time to discover ‘the best family farm fun’.

Not for the Faint Hearted: Centreville Scares

“The evening Fields of Fear hayride at Cox Farms is more like a theater experience than a hay ride hayride,” said Catherine Caton, a Little Rocky Run resident. “Most years there is the haunted corn maze, a hayride with zombie run-ins, and the haunted forest. But don’t worry, the clowns aren’t too scary.”

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Catherine’s family noticed a young boy who found the maze to be more than a little unnerving last year. Catherine mentioned that the actors were very good with him, pulling back on the frightening antics and even breaking character to reassure him.

“There’s really a dearth of events for kids in that pre-teen age group at Halloween, and this is a great, fun event that they will always enjoy,” Catherine said.

The whole Fields of Fear experience at Cox Farms takes place over 20 acres. In addition to the corn maze, there is the Dark Side Hayride with a “lost circus” theme and a dark, scare-thrilled stroll through the woods known as “The Forest: Back 40.” There is also a bonfire, music, dancing, giant slides, and yummy treats.

“They had delicious cotton candy—fresh made, right there—spun on wands that lit up and flashed in different colors, so they looked like multicolor storm clouds,” Catherine said.

Not for the Faint Hearted: Clifton Creeps

Clifton’s homespun version of a campfire story, the legend of the Bunny Man, has been terrifying teens for decades. As urban legends tend to go, the Bunny Man has evolved from a man in a white bunny suit warning away trespassers to a hatchet-wielding bunny suit-clad maniac responsible for several gruesome murders. Regardless of the authenticity of the story, visitors to Bunny Man Bridge turn out to view the infamous trestle with which the Bunny Man is rumored to have a special connection. Both residents and police are extremely vigilant about turning away trespassers at Halloween.

Hatchet-wielding bunny suit-clad maniacs aside, Bunny Man Bridge has an official name, Colchester Overpass, and is an active rail trestle. Approximately 90 trains from the VRE-Manassas and Amtrak lines use the overpass each week. Visiting is highly discouraged due to the extreme danger posed by the heavy rail traffic.  As beautiful as Clifton is for hikers, these tracks are not safe for walking – ever!

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Kicking The Candy to The Curb

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time this fall, it will be tough to avoid sugary treats. Remember that cotton candy that Catherine talked about? For those families who want to purge the candy that mysteriously appears in backpacks and cabinets, under beds and in freezers over the Halloween weekend, many dental offices in our area offer a candy buyback option to their patients. Each office registers their buyback event, then donates the candy received to a partnering non-profit for distribution. Enter you zip code here to see if your dentist is listed.

Building the Town Square

Visit the DamonSellsHomes Town Square on a regular basis to read new stories about Centreville & Clifton and, hopefully, to make new friends and find new experiences one click at a time. Send your stories, announcements, and article ideas for consideration to Kris@DamonSellsHomes.com. If you’ve attended any of these Fall events, comment below about your favorite attractions or tips for first-time attendees.

Damon Nicholas and The DamonSellsHomes Team take their professional responsibilities seriously. As Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s #1 real estate team in Virginia, they are professionally effective because of their personal investment in and passion for the Centreville and Clifton communities where they live and serve.

If you’re thinking of BUYING or SELLING, will you call Damon today?

*Photos courtesy of photobucket; **Photos courtesy of Facebook