The month of October may just be under way, but plans are already in motion for a number of spooky activities in the Marietta area.
Organizers of Marietta's Halloween in the Park are making plans and seeking donations to support the 23rd annual event in Marietta's Muskingum Park. Chairwoman Connie Grimes said it takes about $2,500 and the efforts of several local businesses, civic organizations and individuals to pull off the afternoon of candy, food and games.
"That buys all the food and the candy and the trinkets and all the things we need," said Grimes, a member of Pioneer Ladies Civitan and a Halloween in the Park volunteer for about 20 years.
"I do it for the kids," she said. "When you see all the fun the kids are having, it's worth it."
Started as a safe alternative to trick or treating, the event draws about 1,200 kids 12 and under and parents. Members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program stuff bags with candy donated by various groups, while the men of Marietta Civitan cook hot dogs to go with other refreshments. Students in Marietta High School clubs run games for the children, and members of a number of other local service organizations pitch in as well, Grimes said.
Halloween in the Park will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30, and picks up right as the Pioneer City's annual Halloween Parade, sponsored by the Marietta noon lions Club, ends. Starting at Fourth and Butler streets, the parade brings a wave of creatively costumed kids through town, with prizes awarded to the scariest, funniest, most original and best of show costumes.
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But residents don't have to wait until the day before All Hallow's Eve to get their spook on.
"Marietta is full of historic buildings and haunts that provide some fun for visitors this fall," said Wendy Wharff, executive director of the Marietta/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a release detailing October's planned events.
The Castle, at 418 Fourth St., will present a Victorian funeral program Saturday and Sunday. Tours will be offered every 15 minutes from 2 to 4 p.m. both days, giving visitors a chance to learn about traditions surrounding death in that era and even "eavesdrop" on some bereaved ladies as they consult a medium.
Later in the month, the Castle will offer an overnight program on Halloween traditions for children in third, fourth and fifth grades on Oct. 16. An afternoon of psychic readings is planned for Oct. 24 at the Castle, and ghost tours of the museum will be offered Oct. 29 and 30.
Hidden Marietta Ghost Trek continues to offer tours of the downtown area at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The business will also team up with the Washington County Historical Society to offer Twilight Tours of the Anchorage, dubbed Marietta's original haunted house, on Oct. 10, 17 and 24. And Ghost Trek creator Lynne Sturtevant will share portions of her book "Hidden Marietta: History and Mystery in Ohio's Oldest City," at the O'Neill Center on Oct. 21.
A newer tradition continues Oct. 23 with the second annual Zombie Walk-Thriller Dance-Off in Historic Harmar Village. Area dance companies will compete in Michael Jackson's classic horror-themed dance, with other activities including games, food, a zombie film fest and cash prizes for the best zombie costume.
Spooky hayrides will be offered at Sweetapple Farms, on Ohio 7 and Ohio 550 across from Warren High School, on select dates this month. The rides will start at dark and continue throughout the night based on weather conditions and the number of guests.
More information about these and other events is available at www.mariettaohio.org or by calling the convention and visitors bureau at 373-5178.