Little kids in Athens started their Halloween festivities early at Boo at the Zoo, an annual Halloween event held on Thursday, Oct. 24 at Memorial Park from 5-8 p.m.
Families were already lined up well before the event began. Natalie Kilgore and her family, who were second in line, have attended the event in previous years. While the Kilgores began making the annual trek to the Memorial Park celebration when they only had their son, Archie, they now take along their daughter, June.
“I feel like $5 going towards the [Bear Hollow] zoo is a good cause,” Kilgore said.
The event had a carnival set up on the basketball court which included a bouncy house and bouncy slide, both with lines of excited kids.
Memorial Park facility supervisor John McKinney accredits the event’s success to staff members and volunteers.
“We look for events that the community’s hosting and we contact them asking if they need help, and many times they do,” said Karen Alvarado, a Cedar Shoals High School senior, who volunteered at the event.
Other highlights of the carnival included a Kona Ice shaved ice truck and a tent where kids had the opportunity to get their face painted for free.
A series of costume contests were held throughout the event, allowing attendees to show off their costumes. Each contest had three winners who wore costumes ranging from notable characters such as Harry Potter to storybook characters like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. Other costume winners were kids that had their families dressed up as well, such as a kid dressed up as Tigger and their mom dressed as Winnie the Pooh.
The event also had a cupcake walk, which combined the game of bingo and musical chairs. Players walked around a circle of numbered chairs as Halloween music played, then sat down in a chair once the music ended. A number would be drawn after the music ended, and whoever sat in the chair assigned to the chosen number won a cupcake.
The event also had trick-or-treating at Bear Hollow Zoo, which occurred down the road from Memorial Park. There were Halloween inflatables at every turn, and stations were set up with volunteers and a bucket of candy.
As children went up to each station, they had to answer an animal-related trivia question correctly in order to get candy for a fun and educational trick-or-treating experience. At a station that asked what the zoo’s North American River Otter, Otterbee, likes to eat, kids also got a chance to view the otter as well.
Between the stations, animals such as deer, reptiles and turkeys were on display.
Once attendees reached the end of the zoo, they were given the chance to enjoy a hayride.
“I like kids, and I like Halloween, and I like animals, so it’s the best of three worlds.” said Ashlyn Halseth, a Bear Hollow Zoo animal care intern that was volunteering at the event.