Halloween night scene in a spooky graveyard

JANESVILLE—Mu ah ha ha. Mu AH ha ha. MU AH HA HA!

Yes, we recognize the sinister laughter doesn’t translate well to print.

We also know some people truly relish the sound and sight of scary. They are the ones who would be delighted to dine with—or on—the undead.

Others, however, might cower under the table at the first “Mu” in “Mu ah ha ha.”

Fortunately, the Rock County Historical Society’s annual “Spirits in the Night” program features a month of events that range from a joyful celebration of wizardry to some unpleasant interactions with the deceased.

Never have the words “something for everyone” been so true.

For Rock County Historical Society Director Tim Maahs, the events are a way to keep things “fresh and new” while at the same time connecting people with local history.

Tickets for different events have sold quickly in past years, so if you hope to satisfy your fix for sinister laughter, it’s probably best to sign up early. Tickets for all events can be found online at RCHS.us.

Wizard School

The popularity of last year’s Wizard School persuaded the historical society to bring it back for 2019, Maahs said. Young people can test their mettle at making potions and a variety of other wizarding skills.

Special guest Choton Basu, a professor at UW-Whitewater, will be on hand to show students how to make virtual potions. The best thing about virtual potions is you can blow up your lab and no one has to call the fire department.

The Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin also will bring a selection of “magical beasts” to visit attendees.

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday Oct. 12.

Where: Rock County Historical Society campus, 440 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-12 and free for those ages 3 and younger. All children must be accompanied by adults.

Sinister rating: Mild (Mu ah ha ha).

Murder and Mayhem at Tallman Carriage House

This event will be held twice, and the events are described as “for adults who relish hearing gruesome and scandalous stories from Rock County’s past.”

Oh, goody.

Visitors will be treated to heavy appetizers, a cash bar and stories that bring local history to life—and then some.

When: 7-9 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 12 and 19. The first program will feature a theme of wizardry while the second focuses on bloody good Halloween-themed stories.

Where: Tallman Carriage House, 430 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

Sinister rating: Moderate (Mu AH HA HA).

“Spooky Stories: The Salem Witch Trials”

Local expert Tom Skinner tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692. Visitors will learn the history of witchcraft, who was accused and why, and the historical impact these events had on the country.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Where: Tallman Carriage House, 450 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

Cost: Free.

Sinister rating: Mild, if you don’t think about it too much (mu ah ha ha).

“Chill at Oak Hill” cemetery tours

Tours are publicized as being educational in nature, but it’s still traipsing around a cemetery at day’s end.

Local history experts will lead attendees through the cemetery while sharing stories about accidental burials, grave robbing, grave digging, funeral customs and more.

When: Cemetery tours run at 4 and 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17; Wednesday, Oct. 23; Friday, Oct. 25; Saturday, Oct. 26, and Wednesday, Oct. 30. After-dark tours run on the hour from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; Friday, Oct. 25; Saturday, Oct. 26, and Wednesday, Oct. 30. A special after-dark tour also is planned at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Where: Oak Hill Cemetery, 1725 N. Washington St., Janesville.

Cost: $20

Sinister rating: Daytime tours are moderate to scary, depending on your disposition (Mu AH HA HA to MU AH HA HA), and after-dark tours will have you wandering around a cemetery after dark, so ... (MU AH HA HA HA!!).

“Death and Dying in the Victorian Era”

The Rock County Historical Society describes this as a Tallman House tour where you can experience “19th-century wakes, séances and autopsies.” I’m not sure I want to experience an autopsy—at least not yet. But to each his own.

Tours start outside the home, where visitors will learn about some Victorian traditions. Once inside the house, they will attend a wake, participate in or observe a séance, and then it’s down into the basement for the Civil War autopsy.

Just being in the basement at Tallman House is super creepy, Maahs said.

When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 17-19, and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26.

Where: Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

Cost: $20.

Sinister rating: High. Wakes, séances and autopsies push this one into MU AH HA HA HA ARRRRRGGH territory.

“Day of the Dead” party

This is way better than it sounds. The Fiesta de Dia de Los Muertos is the day it is believed the gates of heaven open to allow spirits to reunite with their families. This can be good or bad, depending how you feel about your relatives.

On the whole, it’s a joyful thing. Guests are encouraged to bring photos or favorite items of their deceased loved ones, which helps welcome their spirits to the celebration, Maahs said.

Brightly-colored clothing, painted faces and masks are welcome at the event. The party also includes a cash bar, appetizers and live entertainment.

The party is held in association with the Latino Service Providers Coalition, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit that group.

When: 7-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1.

Where: Tallman Carriage House, 450 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

Cost: $25

Sinister rating: Quite mild (mu ah ha ha).