Falling in love with fall all over again

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As the leaves turn brown and the pumpkin-spice flavored drinks crop up on the menu of every major chain coffee retailer, you can bet it means that Halloween-themed events, pumpkin carving and other fall festivities are right around the corner.

Actors at last year’s Haunted Horror Show at Danceadelphia’s studio.

As the leaves turn brown and the pumpkin-spice flavored drinks crop up on the menu of every major chain coffee retailer, you can bet it means that Halloween-themed events, pumpkin carving and other fall festivities are right around the corner. Luckily for you, we compiled some of the best of those things scheduled to happen in the next couple of months in South Philly so you can mark every fall event off your autumn checklist and never even have to leave the confines of South Philadelphia.

South Philly Meatball Challenge Oct. 13

For the fifth year in a row, the Taproom on 19th is bringing back the South Philly Meatball Challenge, an event in which locals compete for the title of best meatball in South Philly. The judges will judge the meatballs on criteria such as flavor, taste and texture, the bar’s co-owner Pete Fry said. The prize changes every year, but this year it’s a $100 gift certificate to the Taproom.

Last year’s event was marred with controversy when it was revealed local resident Jennifer Zavala submitted (*gasp*) vegan meatballs. Will there be vegan meatballs at this year’s competition? There’s only one way to find out.

“You can submit whatever you want,” said Pete Fry, co-owner of the Taproom. “We don’t put any conditions. If you want to make a meatball out of twigs and leaves, you can.”

Just don’t bet on winning.

“The chances of a vegan meatball even coming close are slim to none,” he said. “It just seems if you want to win, it might not be the way to go.”

South Philly International Food Festival, Oct. 20

On Saturday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., residents from South Philly and beyond are invited to attend the South Philly International Food Festival at St. Thomas Aquinas School, located at 1719 Morris St. The event will feature dishes from all different cultural backgrounds, including Vietnamese, Indonesian, Mexican and Italian foods. The event will be put on jointly by Modero & Company, the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and the Aquinas Center.

“Probably every continent will be represented,” said Sinta Storms, founder of Modero & Company, an organization whose mission is to preserve the traditional Indonesian culture, perform Indonesian dances and celebrate different aspects of the culture. In addition to exposing Indonesian culture with food, the organization, which has been around for seven years, has put on dances from Disney World to Panama.

The event came together only recently when Storms reached out to Bethany Welch, executive director at the Aquinas Center, about a month ago.

“We believe food is a great convener,” Welch said.

Welch noted the event is perfect for somebody who wants to try new foods but doesn’t want the commitment of going to a Haitian or Laotian restaurant and sitting down for a meal, not knowing what to order. If they come to the South Philly International Food Festival, they can buy foods they’d like to try in a more casual manner.

“None of this is fancy restaurant food,” Welch said. “It’s the neighborhood flavors of our community.” For more information check out the South Philly International Food Festival Facebook page. If you have interest in becoming a food vendor for the event, reach out to events@aquinascenterphilly.org. For non-vendor attendees, admission into the event is free, but the food costs extra.

Oct. 24 Pumpkin Carving with Bella Vista Neighbors

Pumpkin Carving returns to the Fleisher Art Memorial on Oct. 24 for all ages. The event will feature two sessions due to limited space. The first will last from 6 to 7 p.m. and the second will last from 7 to 8 p.m. Alcohol will be available for the adults, pumpkins will be available for the kids and the expertise of Fleisher’s trained staff will be on hand to provide artistic guidance. The event is free, but a $10 donation to the Bella Vista Neighbors Association, which is sponsoring the event, is suggested to help fund additional community projects. Registration is required ahead of time. To register visit fleisher.org/event/11863/.

Haunted Horror Show at Danceadelphia studio Oct. 27–31

For the 26th year, Dancedelphia is bringing back its annual horror show at its studios on Snyder Avenue. The event, which is geared towards people aged 13 and up, has a different theme every year. This year’s theme is “40 years of horror wrapped up in one night,” said Jason Douglas, who called the event “unique” and “unlike anything else in the country.”

The way it works is that families and friends are invited into the basement of Danceadelphia’s studios. Then they’re led up each of the other three floors of the studio, which will have been converted into a Haunted House. The production is put on by a mixture of students and professionals.

“Every year we constantly teach younger kids how this works and we give the a good idea of how to produce a show and put it together,” said Douglas.

There are no specific age limits to the event, but Douglas warned that the main event might not be suitable for children. However, on Saturday the 27th, Danceadelphia will have less scary shows for children in the daytime starting at 10 a.m. and going until 3 p.m. The full event, however, will have shows at every hour starting at 7 p.m. every day from Oct. 27–31. Tickets for either event are $15 a person and can be purchased by visiting the studio at 1100 Snyder Avenue any day after 4 p.m. or calling the studio at 215–467–9551.

Spooktacular Christian Street YMCA Oct. 29

Children and their parents are invited to the Christian Street YMCA’s Spooktacular event happening on Oct. 29. The event, which is open to the community, is free for YMCA members and $5 for non-members. The event will feature trick or treating, a costume parade, a photo booth, games and arts and crafts for children. The event is annual, and has been going on for years.

“It’s a pretty open floor plan so it can get chaotic,” said Shea Trogdon, Senior Program Manager at the Christian Street YMCA, “but in a very fun festive environment.” Parents who are non-members can pay their way into the event the day of. For more information visit the Spooktacular Facebook event page.

Becoming: An intimate conversation with Michelle Obama Nov. 29

The former first lady is making runs around the country to promote her new book, “Becoming,” which will be released Nov. 13.

“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era,” reads a promo on the tour’s website. “As First Lady of the United States of America — the first African American to serve in that role — she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.”

The tour comes to Philly on Nov. 29 and tickets range in price from $29.50 all the way up to a whopping $2,000 a pop. They can be purchased on wellsfargocenterphilly.com.

Jingle Bell Run Dec. 1

The Arthritis Foundation’s annual Jingle Bell Run will take place on Dec. 1 this year, while it’s just barely warm enough to go running outside. You’ll need layers though. The Arthritis Foundation recommends your ugliest Christmas sweater. Might as well tie some jingle bells to your shoelaces while you’re at it. The event, which is one of the longest-running holiday-themed 5K race series anywhere, will take place in the Navy Yard and 100 percent of your registration fee will go toward benefiting the Arthritis Foundation. For more help or information about the 2018 Jingle Bell Run Philadelphia, contact Sara Smith at sarasmith@arthritis.org or call 215–574–3060. You can also check out the Jingle Bell Run Philadelphia Facebook page.