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Jacksonville Parks & Rec makes plans for Halloween fun

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Scary trail

Halloween fun from a previous year is shown in this image from City of Jacksonville social media by Michelle Miklik. 

Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department will again team up with local organizations to bring a spooky fun-filled week of Halloween festivities.

In a recent press release, the department announced this year’s “No Tricks, Just Treats” week will be packed with fun-for-all-ages events, complete with horse-drawn wagon rides, a kiddie trail trek, square dancing, and more.

“For several years now, probably 10 or more, we’ve been doing a week of ‘No Tricks, Just Treats,’” said Jacksonville PARD director Janis Burns. “This year, our ‘No Tricks, Just Treats’ starts on next Saturday, the 23rd, with our VolleyBoo invitational tournament — which is just a play on words for volleyball.”

The tournament is for the PARD’s volleyball league for third through seventh grades and is open to the public at $2 per person admission. 

“It’s kind of a chance to see the future of volleyball for our area,” Burns said. “Some of our teams, after playing in our tournament, they’re going to be playing at the state tournament. That will be in Albertville in November.”

The bigger event for the smaller children, Burns said, is the “Not So Haunted Trail Trek.” She said this has previously been a carnival-style event, but in the post-pandemic world organizers have modified the event to maintain groups at small family-sized levels at each station. 

“All along the trail, they will have those carnival style games they can play and win prizes,” Burns said. 

The “Not so haunted trail trek,” will be Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m. and will be $5 for children under 12 and free for adults. 

“It’s not quite so haunted — it’s not scary, but it might have a few little ghosts and spiders and trolls that cross the bridge,” Burns said. “But it is a very family-friendly event for the kids where they don’t have to fight the crowds.”

The main event, Boots and BBQ, will be a collaborative event between PARD and Jacksonville State University’s Delta Zeta Sorority on Friday, Oct 29. 

Delta Zeta will be hosting a square dancing/live music and barbecue event on the Public Square in Jacksonville from 4 p.m to 9 p.m. This event will be fundraising for the Starkey Hearing Foundation. 

“Delta Zeta's national philanthropy is speech and hearing, and we are partnered with Starkey Hearing Foundation to raise money at our events,” Sarah Sumners, president of the Jacksonville chapter of Delta Zeta, said. 

According to the press release, attending the event will be a professional square dance caller. 

“The square dance caller is actually Lexie's uncle who is driving all the way from Texas to be at our event,” Sumners said — Lexie being Lexie Gilbert, the sorority’s philanthropy chair.

Sumners said the chapter tries to have at least one philanthropy event per semester, but said this will be its first ever Boots and BBQ event. 

Between 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in front of the Dr. Francis Museum right off the square will be free horse-drawn wagon rides that will carry up to 15 people. Burns said this will be similar to a hayride but with horses and without the hay. 

At 9 p.m. the library staff will begin the “Walking Haunted Jacksonville Ghost Tours.”

“I’m anxious to see that one because I’ve never done that one,” Burns said. “I’ve always thought it would be really cool.”

For any additional information about these events, contact the Jacksonville PARD at 256-435-8115.