Haunted tales, local lore, and much more to celebrate Halloween in Pittsburgh

“From pop culture to folklore, this is a city that is comfortable with its shadowy corners,” writes Sean Collier for Pittsburgh Magazine.

A recent article saw Sean try to answer the question:“Why does Pittsburgh love to be scared?” And it’s a good question — it’s absolutely true, we do love a good thrill. The haunted houses, frightening festivities, and local lore prove as much. And of course, there’s also the classic horror films made here by George A. Romero to help solidify our fear-filled bona fides. But our fondness for the paranormal goes back much further than modern day pop culture and signifies; it actually stems from the lasting influence of immigrant folk traditions. Read more about it in this article, “Scream City: Why Pittsburgh Loves to Be Scared.”

So, my pretty… Do you enjoy the shock and shiver? If so, you’ll enjoy all of these Halloween-themed stories below.

Let’s give ‘em pumpkin to talk about

🎃 Does anyone remember Isaly’s Party Slices? We’ve got the scoop on this Flashback Friday courtesy of our friends at the Heinz History Center. (📸: @historycenter)

Party Slices were a staple of Isaly’s holiday treats until 1978. Like a Klondike without the chocolate coating, party slices came wrapped in foil and eliminated the need to scoop ice cream at a party. There were standard flavors, but the most popular were the slices that had shapes inside. The tradition started with Isaly’s bricks, which mixed different flavors in two or three layers. Then a process was devised to also add a shape that could be seen on the ends and when it was sliced.

True party slices began in the late 1950s, when machinery allowed the ice cream to be sold pre-sliced and already wrapped. Flavored center shapes of pumpkins, shamrocks, hearts, and trees — surrounded by vanilla — became a staple of Isaly’s holiday treats until 1978.

Brian Butko’s new book, “Isaly’s Chipped Ham, Klondikes, and Other Tales from Behind the Counter,” is now available for purchase at the Heinz History Museum Shop

🕸️ All the Halloween-themed headlines

👻 There’s plenty of paranormal activity in Pittsburgh. Haunted Pittsburgh’s walking tour of Downtown visits a list of familiar places with ghost stories for the ages: The Frick Building, Omni William Penn Hotel, S.W. Randal Toyes and Giftes, Bridge of Sighs, Union Station, and — no surprise here — the Allegheny County Morgue. Learn more about these ghastly tales at the link. ➡️ (Pittsburgh Magazine)

🍫 Clark Bars, Mallow Cups, Mike and Ikes — these are just a few of the many Pennsylvania-made candies that are perfect for handing out to trick-or-treaters. If you’re buying your candy last minute (like me, so I don’t dig into it before Halloween), check out the full list to support local businesses. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

🍸 Will you contact any spirits this Halloweekend? And by that, I mean the frighteningly delicious cocktails. Head to the Downtown Halloween Night Market and Cocktail Crawltomorrow to shop from vendors, enjoy live music, and sip on drinks. Libations include the Purple People Eater from Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Nicky’s Pumpkin Chaitini from Nick’s Thai Kitchen, Magic Trick from Penn Society, Bloody Margarita from Scarpino, Pumpkin Rum Punch from The Market Exchange, Witch’s Brew from The Standard, and many more. (Pittsburgh CIty Paper)

🎃 You still have one weekend left to experience Phantom Fall Fest at Kennywood — a rebranding of the park’s infamous Phantom Fright Nights. This year, Pittsburgh Magazine reporter Ollie Gratzinger (a self-described scaredy cat) experienced our city’s haunted festivities and reported back. Take a gander at their stories to see which one you’d dare to visit: Phantom Fall Fest, Hundred Acres Manor, or Fearscapes. (Pittsburgh Magazine)

🎶 Much more than the Monster Mash. Pittsburgh City Paper released its official Halloween playlist, complete with macabre-themed jams from local artists: “Stranger Things” by Flower Crown, “The Death of Robbie Rotten” by Ferelcat, “Metal Earth” by Fortune Teller, “Ursula” by Sleeping Witch and “Saturn, Ghost!” by Royal Haunts, and more. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

⚰️ Pittsburgh is often listed as one of the most “livable” cities, but could it be the most dead too? Pennsylvania ranked as having the highest movie death toll of any other state with 615 total kills across six films according to this list by CableTV.com. It’s mostly thanks to filmmaker George A. Romero and his Living Dead series. (Pittsburgh City Paper)

👻 Have you ever wanted to be a Haunt Actor? Some locals are taking on this terrifying task at ScareHouse, dubbed “One of America’s Scariest Haunted Houses.” This season, Pittsburgh Magazine associate editor Sean Collier (a longtime fan of the haunted house) committed to getting his fright face on and taking a part in the production — you can read all about it in this piece. ➡️(Pittsburgh Magazine)

🌚 Black cats are Halloween icons because of the long-held superstition of bad luck, and they’re often not adopted as quickly as other kitties because of it. Be a “good witch” this Halloween and rescue a black cat like Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pet of the Week, Cashmere. He’s a shy boy looking for a hallowed heart to love him. (Pittsburgh Magazine)

🏠 Would you bunk at Buffalo Bill’s House? The Perryopolis house where The Silence of the Lambs was filmed is now a vacation rental home with four bedrooms and little details throughout as nods to the film’s fans. And in the basement, there is Hannibal Lecter’s partially recreated subterranean lair with special effects. Creepy, right? (Pittsburgh Magazine)