Spooky guide to New England Halloween happenings


Halloween scene with pumpkins

Get your fright on! Between now and early November, there’s no shortage of spooky, haunted happenings to scare and delight you. Whatever your age – young, old or in-between, there is something for you in our guide. We’ve selected a few  highlights and included some general guides with even more ideas. But if spooky things are not your cup of tea, be sure to see our other ideas for how to enjoy the fall season in New England.

Providence, RI
Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Jack O’Lantern Spectacular – “More than 5,000 intricately carved pumpkins featuring scenes of wizards, fairytales, and the luminaries of great myths and legends, alongside superheroes, and historical figures who changed our world. Revel in the sights and sounds of the season, and celebrate this otherworldly experience. NEW THIS YEAR – join us for special event themed nights.”

Sturbridge MA
Sturbridge Village, The Legend of Sleep Hollow – “Recognized as one of the country’s top five Halloween plays by American Theatre Magazine, The Sleepy Hollow Experience is an immersive, outdoor theatrical experience that reimagines Washington Irving’s iconic 1820’s tale. At The Sleepy Hollow Experience, guests will be ghoulishly guided through the Village’s countryside where they will encounter Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones and quite possibly the Headless Horseman.”

Bristol CT
The Haunted Graveyard – At dusk, take a terrifying 1 mile journey through darkly glittering catacombs to an eerie graveyard, to a vampire’s haunt, to a witch’s lair, then onto a misty lake and an ancient temple.

Salem MA
Haunted Happenings – What better place to experience Halloween than the city of the witch trials? There are a variety of events to choose from – this site says: “A festive celebration of Halloween and fall in New England. We invite you to experience a unique one of a kind Halloween experience. From the Grand Parade and Family Film Nights on Salem Common, to ghost tours, haunted houses and so much more.” Get an event calendar, a free guide & more.

Boston MA
Haunted Boston Ghost Tours – The best way to see Historic Boston is by foot. Our 90-minute long walking tour takes you through the historic and haunted streets in search of the countless ghosts rumored to haunt the city.

Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour – Guided by a ghoulish band of the undead and a roguish gravedigger, the Trolley of Terror will go back in time as you relive grisly murders, heinous torcherings and cold-blooded executions like the ones that took place on the Boston Commons.

Litchfield NH
Spooky World – Spooky World presents Nightmare New England and the Haunted Hayride. It is New England’s largest haunted attraction.

More New England Halloween Guides

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Have a fireplace? Time to clean that chimney!


What’s better on a chill winter night than a crackling fire in the fireplace? But if you have a fireplace, it’s extremely important that you conduct ongoing maintenance — and it’s a good time to do that now, before the winter chill sets in and the fireplace starts getting a lot of use. Chimney fires account for 75% of home heating fires, according to experts, and almost all chimney fires are preventable with regular upkeep and maintenance to ensure proper venting and to address any buildup of creosote. It’s a frightening experience to have a chimney fire and even if it does not spread to other parts of the house – which it can easily do – it can be an expensive and unnerving event. Property Casualty 360 offers 10 tips to prevent chimney fires.

Many homeowners think that an annual cleaning is sufficient but it really depends on the rate of creosote buildup. Here are two great articles that offer advice on how often to have your chimney cleaned and what to look for in a professional chimney cleaning or repair service:

If you’re experienced at do-it-yourself home maintenance, you might want to tackle the project yourself. This infographic from The Fix shows you how.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Don’t fall for flu myths: get your flu shot early


Woman with flu bunlded in blankets, sipping a hot beverage

We tend to think of the flu as a winter illness, but October is the start of flu season in the United States, continuing on through May and generally peaking in January or February. It’s not too early to think about getting your flu shot now, and if you need a good reason, the Chicago Tribune reports on some news about the toll of last year’s flu season:

“More than 80,000 people died from the flu last season in the United States, according to early estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it’s far lower than the almost 700,000 people who died in the U.S. during the so-called Spanish flu pandemic that hit worldwide 100 years ago, last season was a “record-breaking” death toll, the highest since at least the late 1970s, according to the CDC.

The flu deaths last season were nearly 10,000 higher than the estimated number who died from drug overdoses and almost double the number of those estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 900,000 plus were hospitalized, the public health agency said. In Illinois, more than 2,300 were admitted to intensive care units for flu-related illness.”

Apparently, that isn’t evidence enough to convince people to get vaccinated – less than half of the population gets a shot each year. If you are a flu shot skeptic, the Harvard Medical School shoots down 10 common flu myths – check out the article to get the facts.

  • Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
  • Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated.
  • Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from the flu.
  • Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.
  • Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
  • Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
  • Myth: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat, with wet hair or by sitting near a drafty window.
  • Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever.
  • Myth: Chicken soup will speed your recovery from the flu.
  • Myth: If you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than a day or two, antibiotics may be necessary.

Learn about who is most vulnerable to the flu from the CDC: People at High Risk of Developing Serious Flu–Related Complications. Get more facts about prevention, symptoms, treatments and more from flu.gov.

Today, there’s no excuse – it’s pretty easy to get a flu shot on the fly, you don’t even need to make a doctor’s appointment. You can get a flu shot at most major pharmacies and drug stores. If you’re unsure where to get a shot, check the vaccine finder. Here are some tips for getting free or cheap flu shots.

Two dozen ideas for how to enjoy the fall season in New England


brilliant fall foliage from a dock in a lake

For many in New England, this the autumn is the favorite season of the year … crisp days and nights, beautiful scenery and the whiff of cider in the air … people from all over the world travel here, but we’re just a short car ride in any direction to see the full glory of the season.

Start your explorations with a Live New England foliage map to track the peak regional  foliage spots. And get free guides to the Best of New England Fall Travel, which includes best places to see foliage, best fall drives, things to do, places to stay, and more.

The foliage network offers local foliage reports with maps showing peak color locations, scenic drives and places to stay – and if you can’t find the time to drive to peak foliage locations or want to check out current conditions, check out the webcams.

Here’s a few dozen articles and guides for places to go and things to see and do:

These suggestions should give you some good options. One more thing: When you’re on the road, it’s always a good idea to have your local insurance agent’s name and number with you in case any mishaps occur on the road. Make sure you have your agent’s info in your phone contacts listing!

How to block those spammy, scammy phone calls


cartoon image of man yelling "don't cal me"

By 2019, nearly half the calls made to cell phones will be fraudulent, claims a recent report by First Orion, a phone and data transparency solution provider. This is a huge increase. In 2017, about 4% of cell phone calls were scammy. By 2018, that number had grown to almost 30%. And the upward trend continues, thanks in part to new dirty tricks like “neighborhood spoofing”, in which a scammer spoofs the area code and prefix of the caller dialed, to increase the likelihood of getting an answer.

It’s pernicious, it’s annoying, and it seems like the bad guys are always one step ahead of the technological solutions deployed to end their schemes.

Case in point: third-party blocking apps only blacklist known spam numbers. While this is useful (and while the companies offering this service update the master list of bogus numbers regularly), these apps won’t protect you from spoofed calls, which generally originate from legitimate phone numbers that have been temporarily taken over by scammers.

The good news is that phone manufacturers and cellular service providers, in collaboration with government regulators and third-party privacy and security companies, are rolling out new tools to help you keep your phone as free of spam as possible.

So what can you do?

First, register your number with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call list.
You’ll need to fill out some information and reply to a confirmation email to complete the process. This will also allow you to report spam numbers directly to the FTC, which helps everyone get rid of these annoyances. Reporting unwanted text messages is easier – just forward them to 7726 (SPAM). Most US carriers participate in this program, which uses the submitted information to blacklist numbers and to try to block future spammers.

Second, use your phone’s built-in capabilities to block as many known spammers as you can.

On Android devices, open the Phone app and select the number. Tap “More” and choose whether to block calls, block messages, or block everything originating from that number. You can also add numbers manually by going to Phone > More > Settings > Call Blocking > Block List.

On iPhone, go to Phone > Recent > Info > Block This Caller. At the confirmation message, choose “Block This Contact”.

Your cellular carrier also has services in place to help you win (or at least try to tie!) this frustrating game of spammer whack-a-mole. Note, however, that these services are generally NOT free.

Combining the power of the federal Do Not Call List with the technology sitting on your cell phone carrier’s servers with the software built into your phone can help you stem the tide of scammy calls.

There are also third-party apps available for all models of smartphones that will help you block unwanted calls, blacklist scam callers, and cut down on the annoyance of robocalls. Again, most of these are not free (except Hiya), and almost all require a renewing subscription. But if you’re inundated with these calls, they may very well be worth it. Check out apps like Hiya, Nomorobo, Robokiller, and Truecaller.

Or, if you are an iPhone user, you can deploy the nuclear option: go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Allow Calls From > All Contacts. Then turn on Do Not Disturb. Permanently. Now you’ll only receive calls from numbers already in your contacts. Everyone else will be blocked. This is great, until it isn’t – you probably want that call about the new job to get through, and you never know when you’ll get an emergency call from an unknown number. So while not perfect, this technique will absolutely still your squalling iPhone if needed.

And if all else fails, you can just let those unrecognized calls roll right over to voicemail.