Trick or treat yourself: Indy Halloween

Pick your poison this Halloween season. Photo by Hannah Barone


As we all know, Halloween is indisputably the best holiday of the year. While kids get free candy and cute costumes, young adults can enjoy morally dubious activities while doused in copious amounts of glitter. And, best of all, people over the age of 30 get to celebrate a holiday without feeling morally obligated to interact with their extended family. All in all, the spooky season offers a healthy dose of much-needed festivity before the long, cold winter. 

However, some may feel discontented with the prospect of spending a holiday as magnificent as Halloween in the doldrums of Indiana. Sprawling cornfields, nonexistent nightlife and the occasional October flurry do not exactly make for proper Halloween ambiance. Furthermore, not all traditional Halloween activities are universally accessible. Strobe lighting effects in haunted houses can be overstimulating, and gory slasher films aren’t everyone’s cup of hot apple cider. 

With these grievances in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to identify accessible, enjoyable and local Halloween attractions. Although Indiana may seem boring to some, there are plenty of hidden Halloween gems — more often than not resulting from the tireless efforts of small businesses and local organizations. So not only can you partake in this year’s unique and incredible Halloween festivities, but you’ll also be able to reap the long-term benefits of supporting your community. 

The surrounding Indianapolis area is generally accessible to most Butler students, and offers a wide variety of experiences. A quick Google search reveals that the Irvington Historic District is only a thirty minute drive from Butler University, and hosts several events during the last half of October, including ticketed events such as a seance, or free attractions like a zombie-themed bike ride. Furthermore, although already sold out this year due to its immense popularity, the neighborhood also puts on an annual masquerade ball open to people 21 and older. 

These types of activities offer exactly the sort of over-the-top, shamelessly indulgent experiences that truly define the Halloween spirit. Personally, my English major heart is beyond thrilled at the prospect of a genuine, fantasy-style masquerade ball — but for people who aren’t willing to splurge quite that much, even attending a seance could make for a truly unique night. So why is it that most of us end up with the same underwhelming Halloween routine year after year? 

Too often, we tend to get sucked into the Butler bubble and forget about the vibrant city around us. Having lived in Indiana my entire life, I’ll certainly be the first to say that it pales in comparison to the glamorous bustle of California or the towering skyscrapers of New York. But the people that live here are no less starved for entertainment because of the environment; in fact, we might be even more desperate than the average American for a chance to liven up these admittedly droll cornfields. So for those students wearily resigning themselves to yet another frat house Halloween, there are plenty of readily available alternatives. 

Social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are often the best way to find out about local events. A few weeks ago, for instance, a sponsored advertisement for an Irvington Oddities Market appeared on my own Instagram feed, catching my attention so successfully that I actually ended up attending the event this past weekend. 

Sometimes, though, the best publicity is simply word of mouth. Many Butler students — especially those who don’t live in the Indy area— have forged their own unique traditions based on recommendations or gossip from local friends or family. 

Gabi Mathus, a junior criminology and psychology double major, talked about some of the ways she’s celebrated the Halloween season since moving to Butler. 

“There’s usually a lot of local tattoo shops that do flash sales for Friday the 13th,” Mathus said. “The place I go to is called Body Language Tattoo; it’s only about twenty minutes from here.” 

For those who aren’t aware, flash sales at tattoo shops are discounted, walk-in appointments that allow clients to choose from a set list of designs instead of requesting their own unique design. Though this method of celebration isn’t for everyone, since tattoos are both painful and permanent, it’s an excellent way to obtain a beautiful — and festive — piece of art for relatively cheap. 

However, as a student originally from Illinois, Mathus admitted that it can be difficult to find out about these events, especially for students who aren’t local to the Indianapolis area. 

“I’ve been going to school here for three years,” Mathus said. “I know the general areas that I always visit, but outside of Butler’s campus, it’s much harder to discover those opportunities on your own. But I think it would really liven up campus, just to see everyone buzzing about what Halloween events they’re going to go to.” 

Still, although the Indianapolis area has a lot to offer, not all students have access to a car and the state of our public transportation is admittedly dismal. 

Senior English major Ashleigh Michaels talked about some Halloween activities taking place a bit closer to home that more than deserve our attention. 

“Alliance is hosting their drag show on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m,” Michaels said. “We have a drag king performing this year for the first time, which I’m very happy about. I’m hoping for [the drag show] to be very popular this year because we’ve really been getting the word out.” 

Personally, Alliance’s drag show is one of my favorite Halloween traditions — I’ve attended it twice, and I’m beyond excited to make an appearance this year as well. Student performers as well as local queens — and kings — embody the beautiful and timeless art of drag with vibrant and occasionally interactive performances, and the atmosphere is truly indescribable in the best way. 

Additionally, as a senior, Michaels is spending her final year at Butler in a senior house — which also provides some interesting opportunities for festivities. On Halloween night itself, the neighborhoods surrounding Butler come alive with the most timeless tradition of all: families out for trick-or-treating, their costumed kids in tow. 

“When you live in a dorm, you obviously can’t pass out candy to kids that are going trick-or-treating,” Michaels said. “But I’m living in a senior house this year, so I’m really excited to be able to do that.” 

Still, Michaels noted a significant lack of Halloween spirit specifically on Butler’s campus — and I have to agree. Although past appearances of the Sigma Chi haunted house have certainly made for an intriguing sight on Greek Row, the fact is that most other organizations turn their energies elsewhere during the Halloween season. 

However, Violet Ross, a junior English and philosophy double major, offered an interesting solution. 

“I’m imagining a haunted house in the academic buildings, like ‘The Haunting of Jordan Hall,’ or something like that,” Ross said. “Something really corny; you could get the theater majors to volunteer and dress up in costumes.” 

Personally, I’m on board with all of it. College life can be debilitatingly stressful, and we’re always looking for ways to let loose. Self-indulging in a little Halloween shenaniganry has the potential to offset the never-ending stress of papers, exams and projects in a big way. 

So whether it’s haunted housing, horror movie watching or tattoo getting, the month of October is rife with opportunities for getting in the Halloween spirit. Though some of these activities may seem particularly indulgent or even juvenile, it can actually be a very liberating experience to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into genuine, lighthearted fun. We deserve it, after all.


Related posts