Riverside Park to host family events with treats, screams

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Sept. 26, 2012 at 4:26 a.m.

Visit the Casals' front yard in Victoria - if you dare.

Visit the Casals' front yard in Victoria - if you dare.

For two weekends in October, part of Riverside Park will be overrun with ghouls, ghosts and goblins.

The Texas Zoo turns into a scary - but friendly - place where families can come together to gather candy and treats and let out some shrill screams at the same time.

Amanda Rocha, executive director of the Texas Zoo, will be working her second Halloween at the zoo this year and is working closely with the employees and community volunteers to give guests the best experience.

All the exhibits and stages serve as the blank canvas for the Haunted Zoo. Beginning in late September, the zoo crew and volunteers will turn the area into a three-day scream factory.

"The zoo itself is actually really spooky at night, and then when you add some black plastic and sound effects, it gets scarier," said Rocha, 33.

"It's exciting to see so many people here at the zoo at one time," Rocha said of the events. "It's also people that don't ever come to the zoo."

During the Haunted Zoo, employees and volunteers will dress in costume and hide in the haunted house, surprising brave participants at just the right moments.

Rocha said the Haunted Zoo takes about 10 minutes to complete and is suitable for children ages 9 and older.

The Zoo Boo event will cater to younger children and takes place during regular zoo hours over two days. There will be activities for children, concessions and beer for parents. This year's event, Rocha said, will be three times larger to accommodate more families and trick-or-treaters.

On the same night the Texas Zoo kicks off the Haunted Zoo, the city of Victoria will host its annual Haunted Hay Ride.

Danielle Williams, recreation specialist with the City of Victoria, said the hay ride will be about a mile long and estimates it will take less than 10 minutes to complete. The hay ride will loop from McCright Drive behind the stadium and go along the one way street and return to the stadium parking lot.

"Throughout the ride, they get spooked and scared by creatures and things in the woods," she said, trying not to give too much information away.

Williams, 26, said the Haunted Hay ride is suitable for ages 12 and older, and those under 12 should be accompanied by an adult. She added that it's not because how scary it is, but "the element of surprise" that might catch them off guard.

About 500 people participated in the Haunted Hay Ride last year, and she hopes to attract more families with this year's event.



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