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Happy trail to you: Pioneer VIllage to again host family Halloween event

Halloween-themed yard displays are popular for some creative-minded residents.1 / 3
Masks and wigs are commonplace with Oct. 31 approaching.2 / 3
Ghouls and goblins are a common sight during the Halloween season.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- For kids 9 and under, the path to Halloween fun on Saturday night is clearly marked -- at Pioneer Village, anyway.

From 6 to 8 p.m., the traditional Halloween Trail, lit by multiple jack o'lanterns and scattered with mildly scary "spooks," awaits those in third grade and younger who are accompanied by an adult.

And if you don't mind a few tricks, abundant treats may be gathered at the historic buildings along the way.

"There are eight candy stations along the trail that winds through the village," explained Roy Reimer, director of Pioneer Village, "and the trail ends up at the fire hall, where cider, water, coffee and a big cookie are given to participants."

The Halloween event, which is free to the public although donations are suggested, has been hosted by Pioneer Village and the Nobles County Historical Society (NCHS) for more than 20 years, Reimer said -- with plenty of help from others.

Many local entities work together to make the annual Pioneer Village event possible. Food and candy donations are provided by Hy-Vee, Runnings, ShopKo, Fareway Foods, Walgreens, and Farley's and Sathers. Sponsors include Worthington High School's National Honor Society (NHS) and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) group, as well as the Worthington Optimist Club and Rune's Furniture.

"We carve numbers, right and left arrows and faces on the pumpkins," detailed Bonnie Bents, the WHS FCCLA adviser whose students, along with NHS members, handle the pumpkin-carving duties two nights in advance of the Halloween Trail and also dress up for the occasion itself to help distribute treats. "This is a highlight of our year, and I just love seeing the families and young kids come through in their cute little costumes.

"It's nice to work with the Nobles County Historical Society, because they have it so well organized that they just tell us where to step in and help out."

WHS senior Emily Anderson, an NHS member, is looking forward to exercising her artistic side with pumpkins on Thursday evening.

"I'm excited about carving pumpkins with the other NHS members, knowing I'm doing it for a good cause, because I remember going to Pioneer Village as a little girl and seeing all the creative pumpkins," shared Anderson. "Now I get to help make it a special night for other kids."

Jacoba Nagel, current president of the NCHS, is joined by other NCHS board members in putting on the festive night, which typically draws from 300 to 400 people; Reimer also credits Angel Otero and his Community Corrections crew with aiding in setting up the village in advance of the event.

"And Angel and his wife take photos and keep the candles lit all evening," added Reimer.

Although the long-range weather forecast shows the outlook for Saturday evening to be close to ideal -- sunny skies and a high of 55 degrees is predicted for the day -- Reimer has seen all kinds of weather for past Halloween Trails.

"We have had blizzards, absolutely gorgeous evenings, full moons and dark nights," listed Reimer.

One of Reimer's favorite aspects of the event is the variety of get-ups worn by attendees.

"I enjoy the costumes of the youngsters," he affirmed. "There have been some dandies. There are the ones that follow popular culture -- cartoon characters, super heroes -- but then there is the rare but absolutely wonderful Little Miss Muffet."

Might Lady Gaga make an appearance this year?

"I would only recognize 'her' if she was pointed out to me," laughed Reimer. "Sure, I'm 'dressed up' in my overalls with pumpkin guts up to my elbows, working to keep it all flowing."

But despite the hectic night, Reimer wouldn't miss it for anything; after all, it's often a child's first introduction to Pioneer Village, and Bents points out the event's main goal:

"It's meant to give young families a safe and fun environment for trick-or-treating."

The Halloween Trail at Pioneer Village, Worthington, will take place Saturday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free, although donations are welcomed, and intended for children in third grade and younger accompanied by an adult. Costumes are encouraged.

Here is a sampling of other upcoming Halloween-related events in the area:

l Halloween Ghost Walks, offered by the Pipestone Civil War Committee and the Pipestone County Museum, are scheduled for Wednesday and Saturday. Pre-registration is recommended, and there is a small fee. Call the Pipestone County Museum at (507) 825-2563 to register.

l Trick-or-treat in downtown Sibley, Iowa, from 4-5 p.m. on Oct. 31. Local businesses with signs in their windows will provide treats.

l "Frightmares at the Fairgrounds," the 10th Annual Haunted House sponsored by the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce and KUOO Radio, takes place from 7-10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is an admission fee for this event, which is hosted at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

l Ground Round Grill & Bar, Worthington: Annual costume contest, 8 p.m. on Oct. 31; prizes awarded.

l A & T Tap, Worthington: Halloween party with costume contest, drink specials, prizes awarded, 5 p.m. Saturday to close.