Spooktacular readying for 30th year bringing scares to zoo

September 28, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — It’s going to be a scary time at the zoo this October and staff get ready for Spooktacular.

The Lara family have been hard at work for the past eight weeks, building photo props, drawing figures, and setting up behind the scenes for one of the zoo’s most popular events. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Spooktacular and in honor of the occasion, there are more than 30 scenes for visitors to visit. Spooktacular is a fun Halloween event that helps defray the operations costs when attendance dips in the colder weather.

“This is what funds us through the winter season,” said Alice Lara, co-event coordinator. “It is our main fundraiser.”

There will be games available to play at half of the stations, laser tag to play against each other and visitors are encouraged to come in costume to participate in a costume contest.

“There will be a lot of giveaways and wherever there is a game there will be a candy or toy,” Alice Lara said. “There will also be concessions all night.”

This year, the first stop for visitors will be a booth where staff and interns have carved or painted their pumpkins. The public will get to vote on who is the best artist on staff at the zoo. Visitors will see some old favorites at Spooktacular but there will be new scenes this year that includes Coco, the 2017 Pixar film and Toy Story.

“This year, we are also having a fun maze, not a hay maze,” said Valencia Lara, co-event coordinator.

The zoo will not be hosting the Haunted Mansion in Gering this year. They will have a scary section for a small, additional fee.

A special Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner will be held both Saturdays of Spooktacular, Oct. 20 and 27, at 4:30 p.m., which will include a special animal encounter with an animal that has not been seen before.

“You’re the first ones in to Spooktacular and you get into the scary section for free,” Henwood said. “You get in 10-15 minutes early.”

Spooktacular is still in need for volunteers. A volunteer needs to be at least 14 years old to participate. If they are under 14 years old, the volunteer needs to have a parent accompany them during Spooktacular. Volunteer forms can be picked up and returned at the gift shop. A photo ID or license is also required.

“We’re looking for 100 volunteers,” Valencia Lara said.

A mandatory meeting for volunteers will be held on Oct. 17 and 18 at 6 p.m. Volunteers are required to attend one. Anyone needing hours for their school group, community service or volunteer hours will receive credit at the end of the night.

In the past, the zoo closed during part of October to prepare for Spooktacular, but will open, including during Spooktacular. Entrance to Spooktacular is not covered in the regular admission price. There will be a costume contest each weekend. The Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner costs $20 for adults, $15 for youth, age 16 and under and $60 for a family of four. Children under 2 are free. Admission to Spooktacular is $8. Admission to the scary section is $2. Spooktacular runs Oct. 19-21 and 26-30.

For more information, contact Valencia at Vlara@riversidediscoveryenter.org, 308-765-9421 or Alice at 308-672-3930.

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