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SATURDAY

The National Park Service may have some trouble delivering on its Halloween-themed event this Saturday: “Life and Death on the C&O Canal.” The presentation invites locals to a one-hour “guided stroll to witness some of the horrific scenes of strife and death that occurred on the C&O Canal during its 96 years of operation.” To do this topic justice, the Park Service folks would have to produce at least one pair of malnourished and dehydrated mules straining to pull a barge of coal along the 184-mile-long ditch. Then they’d have to hatch a colony of mosquitoes, bugs, and other critters to peck the onlookers to death on the fetid canal bed. And any genuine repro of canal life would have to include an unscrupulous barge operator flanked by his illiterate children and a yapping hound crawling with fleas. A fresh October evening in 2001, of course, is unlikely to furnish any of these stimuli from one of the great commercial and recreational boondoggles in American history. But perhaps the smell of raw waste from the nearby Palisades sewer line will add a touch of authenticity. Make like insects to stagnant water and gather at 6:30 p.m. Meet at C&O Canal National Historical Park’s Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac. $5. For reservations call (301) 767-3714. (Erik Wemple)