Put the final touches on your trick-or-treating plans before the festivities begin this Halloween [Family & Parenting]

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In a city as big and diverse as Louisville, the options for trick-or-treating seem virtually endless. With so many unique neighborhoods and Halloween events at our doorstep, families may wish to explore new ways to celebrate this sweet tradition, and there's no better year than 2011 to try something completely different.

For the past several years, Louisville Metro government and the surrounding counties have established specific times for hungry ghosts and goblins to knock on neighbors' doors, so that the safety of trick-or-treaters is absolutely guaranteed. Those families in Clarksville and Sellersburg, Indiana, may gather goodies from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; revelers can roam the streets from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Floyd County (New Albany), Indiana; and in Jeffersonville, Indiana, tricks and treats will be distributed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In Jefferson County and Oldham County, there is no specific time set for trick-or-treating, but festivities generally last from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to parents' discretion.

It is a fact that some neighborhoods are more spectacular than others during this spooky season. One such area is Hillcrest Avenue, between Bardstown Road and Brownsboro Road in Crescent Hill. This trick-or-treating "hot spot" rarely fails to disappoint with its extravagant decorations, and throughout the month of October, this normally quiet couple of blocks is utterly transformed into a maze of pumpkins, faux spider webs, stuffed witches and zombies, and skeletons of all shapes and sizes. If you are hoping to avoid the rush of trick-or-treaters on Monday evening, take a quick drive through the neighborhood to admire the adornments before the season is through.

Another way to trick-or-treat, which may be a relatively stress-free alternative for younger families, is to attend a sponsored event in the Louisville area. Some local options which are sure to be popular are the Bardstown Bound Boofest and the World's Largest Halloween Party, hosted by the Louisville Zoo. If you're in southern Indiana come All Hallows' Eve and have a taste for theatrics, make sure to swing by New Albany, where Visions of Madness -- a free attraction called a  "yard haunt" that is set up specifically for trick-or-treaters -- will be doling out chills and thrills the entire night.

If you are still concerned about keeping this high-energy holiday tradition as smooth as possible, keep these helpful tips in mind: plan a safe route for the entire family (meaning both older and younger kids) beforehand, stay away from alleys and backyards, make sure your children wait until they get home to dig into their stash of treats, and, of course, mind that children are always accompanied by a responsible adult when trick-or-treating. With good planning, wise choices, and that old sense of Halloween excitement, the treats will surely to outnumber the tricks this October 31.

About Karen Ellestad
When I was seven and my brother was eight, we both wrote to 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' for a free t-shirt. Two weeks later his arrived in the mail, signed by Carmen Sandiego herself, accompanied by an autographed picture of the cast, an official membership to the 'Gumshoe Club,' and a Rockapella casette tape. I got a postcard.
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