November 2, 2011

Halloween adventures big hit despite bad weather

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By Dana Casadei
Meridian Times staff writer

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP — October is the month of horror films, blood, guts and terror,but Halloween Adventures at the Harris Nature Center is filled with children’s laughter, the crackling of a fire pit and the sounds of fall finally hitting, letting visitors have an outing that is family friendly.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, visitors could bring their children and participate in a variety of activities, spread throughout the nature center and cost $5 for child that participated.

After the pinata has been broken children try to grab as much candy as they can.

“It has continued to grow,” said Kit Rich, Senior Park Naturalist and Nature Center Coordinator. “That’s one of the things that we like to do with any of our programs that are ongoing for a number of years is to not let them be static. Keep changing, keep adding, take out things that are getting boring and put in something new and exciting.”

Inside the nature center was a fun house, an area for crafts and a large display on misunderstood animals. Located outside was a hayride, games to play, Sir Read-A-Lot, dressed in full armor, battling children with swords, the friendly forest to walk through, marsh mellows to roast and the pumpkin piñata, one of the event’s most popular events.

“It was so popular that we figured we have to keep doing this,” said Rich. “The game was actually invented by an MSU student.”

That’s not where the connections stop either, with volunteers from Michigan State’s Epsilon Kappa chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, running the activity.

“It’s such a positive experience for all of us, who obviously love children and want to be teachers, that we volunteer our time,” said Kelly Anderson, an elementary education senior and Vice President of Programs. “It’s a fulfilling thing for us and we know it’s really fulfilling for them as well.”

At their first stop through the Friendly Forest children met Mother Nature, Rebekah Faivor.

Children get a chance to line up and hit a pumpkin filled with candy, lined up smallest to largest, with each child not so patiently waiting for their turn. After the pumpkin is knocked down they get to run back inside the circle and fight for as much candy as their little hands can grab, with some parents encouraging them from the sidelines to get their favorite treat.

Another of the event’s more unique events is the friendly forest.

“It’s an underhanded way to get people to walk outside,” said Rich with a laugh.

The forest is a short path through part of the woods where children get to meet characters such as Mother Nature, walk through a bat cave and test their spidey senses, ending with getting to pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

“It’s just a lot of fun to see the kids dressed in costume and kind of have the nature approach to Halloween as opposed to the creepy gory stuff,” said Allison Goodman, Staff Naturalist, who was dressed as a spider in the spidey senses cobweb.