I ask myself the same questions around this time every year. The confluence of events happening at the Gulfstream Hotel (1 Lake Ave., Lake Worth) only makes these questions more universal and pertinent.
My questions start with a single premise: If I were the disembodied spirit of a little girl who was violently separated from the world of the living:
1) How would I feel about taking up residence evermore in a pink Mediterranean-themed hotel that dates from the early 20th Century?
2) Would I force myself to suffer the slings and arrows -- nay, the outright indignities -- of being relegated to sideshow-freakdom during the harvest rituals of Hallow's Eve?
It is this line of questioning that the daughter of the hotel's original owner must ask herself this October 31 during the Gulfstream's "Haunted Hotel Halloween Howl." The landmark hotel, which was built next to the Lake Worth Bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway in 1925, is said to be where she met an early demise in the form of a tumble down an elevator shaft.
According to North Florida Paranormal Research Inc., the little girl is still available for play dates and publicity photos. Guests and employees tell of her visitations within the hotel. Some sightings include the appearance of glowing orbs, taps on the shoulders of elevator riders, and Poltergeist-like switching of lights and TVs on and off.
At midnight on Halloween, the South Florida Paranormal Research Society will lead a ghost tour through the hotel. If the possibility of gawking at the apparition isn't enough, then the freakishness of wrapping the trapped spirit into the festivities will surely make your lower lip quiver.
The party goes from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with entertainment including DJs, a jazz band, horror film screenings, a costume contest, and a buffet. All the bad little Elviras and ghosts of Sinatra will be sipping potions by the poolside or at one of the four liquor bars around the hotel.
Tickets to the Haunted Hotel Halloween Howl cost $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Call 561-540-6000. -- Mike Keller
We Don't Need No Steenkin' T-Rex!
The South Florida Science Museum (4801 Dreher Trl. N., West Palm Beach) opens its latest exhibit, "Dinosaurs Bigger Than T-Rex," today, Sure, tyrannosaurus rex gets all the credit for being a big bad killing machine, but he's just a little chicken compared to gigantosaurus. Five feet longer than T-Rex, this 46-foot carnivore was discovered in Argentina just eight years ago. A life-size museum cast of the dinosaur is on display at the South Florida Science Museum, along with a cast of pteronodon, a flying reptile with a 24-foot wingspan.
Visitors to the exhibit can also learn about a few other unusual reptiles of past eras. Dsungaripterus, for example, which was similar to pteronodon, except for the beak full of sharp teeth that allowed it to swoop down for some tearing and crushing action. Then there's zuni coelurosaur. The Zuni C., as it is affectionately called, was discovered only two years ago. It was seven feet long and had teeth like steak knives and an unusually large brain.
The exhibit runs through May 9. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Call 561-832-1988. -- Dan Sweeney
Israel in the House
Another film festival in South Florida? Why, yes!
Yeah, there's the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, but there are so many movies to choose from. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Through November 6, the U.S.'s largest Israeli film festival swings into Sunrise Intracoastal Cinema (3701 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach) showcasing feature films, documentaries, films from female directors, and TV shows. The opening-night gala takes place Thursday at 7 and includes a Q&A with directors and stars and a screening of the romantic comedy Wisdom of the Pretzel, a film about a college student who goes on a blind date with his best friend's sister. They eventually fall in love and live together, but he starts having doubts about settling down and impulsively makes a choice that he lives to regret. Admission for film screenings is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and students. The opening-night gala costs $50. Call 305-756-0735, or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com. -- Audra Schroeder
Why drive all the way to Orlando when there's a haunted house right here? "Fright Nights" at Sound Advice Amphitheatre (601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach) features five walk-through haunted houses! You've got the "Arcane Asylum" which has been closed for 50 years, but, as we all know, no Halloween would be complete without mental patients. There's the "Demon Carnival," where you could potentially be possessed -- always fun on a Friday night. For all the Dungeons & Dragons fans, you can visit "Wizard's Alley." And don't forget "The Manor," a haunted mansion where spirits still roam the halls, and "Terrortanic," a 3-D voyage to the bottom of the cursed Titanic. Also included for your Halloween pleasure is a haunted hayride through the grounds during which you can hear about the legend of Hurricane Hawthorne. The "foolish mortal" pass offers access to all activities and costs $13. Gates open at 7 p.m. Call 561-795-8883, or visit www.frightnights.net. -- Audra Schroeder