Hello, October! We raise our pumpkin lattes in a toast to the glorious ways that you lower our humidity and give us hope for the days when we can wear our fall clothing. Your arrival comes on the heels of some of the hottest “feels like” temperatures we have experienced.
We are ready to carve pumpkins and bake apple pies with our windows open, taking full advantage of the bountiful harvest October brings. We will “ooh and aah” over the lavish decorations and lights that the neighbors put up, then rush out to make sure our homes are festive with fall-like fever. Then, we will let Halloween, with all its ghoulish flare, thrill and scare us into the holiday season. We love you, October, and nobody celebrates you better than Sarasota. Locally, there are several fun festivals to thrill us this month. If you want to take advantage of the beautiful October weather, mark your calendars for this year’s 7th Annual Haunted Trails. The Haunted Trails is a popular, family-friendly event sponsored by The Friends of Oscar Scherer.
What began as an idea to accentuate the beauty of this beloved state park right in our backyard, provide a fundraising opportunity to help with projects and upkeep, and hold an event that would be fun for the community, has evolved into a production that now requires teams of volunteers and 12 months to prepare. Those involved spend countless hours planning costumes and scenarios to supply the right amount of scare into visitors. It is an exhausting regimen that is fast approaching the decade mark, but volunteers are just as excited for the 2019 show as they were in the beginning days.
The Sarasota Post had the pleasure of speaking with some of the volunteers and coordinators of the event on what the public will be in store for this year. As expected, the bar has been raised and a bounty of “boos” and “oohs” are on the horizon for this October’s event. Four scare zones, a maze and plenty of goosebumps will be had at Black Magic Bayou. Concessions and ghoulish treats will also be available for purchase. Scare actors, Jennifer and Chuck Priest have been involved with Haunted Trails for three years and cite a love of the fall holidays as the reason they keep coming back to volunteer their time and talents. Jennifer describes it this way, “We just love Halloween! One Year I was a zombie bridesmaid then a demon, it does not get boring for us.” Another perk for the duo is the eco-volunteerism they are doing, in preparing the park grounds for the event. “Volunteers come out and build props and other things out of invasive trees and brush, so they are beautifying the park while recycling natural materials.” Jennifer notes that over the years she has seen people fall in love with the park even more than the event.
For Kris Fehlberg, one of the primary volunteers and organizers of Haunted Trails, helping with the website, building props, and designing scenes and skits can be like a full-time job, but also a labor of love. She is celebrating her fourth year with the event and marvels that it has grown to include over 100 volunteers, with 60 being needed for just the scary trail alone. “All year long, lots of love goes into the event to make it special for the community.” Kris goes on to say that throughout the years the volunteers have included community theater groups, high school groups and professional actors. But, a desire to perform is not necessary, as there are a multitude of behind the scenes jobs for anyone looking to join in on the fun. While they encourage attendees to dress in costume, they let the scare actors do all the heavy fright-making.
The 7th Annual Haunted Trails at Oscar Scherer Park takes place October 25 and 26. The Trick-or-Treat Trail opens both evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 PM and The Haunted Trail and Haunted Pavilion are open from 8 to 10PM. The Haunted Trail is more suitable for those ages 13 and up. Tickets are available online at Halloween Haunted Trails website, and do typically sell out before the event so be sure to get yours today. Prices are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6 to 12 and free for children under five years old.
Photos courtesy of Friends of Oscar Scherer Park Facebook page.