Happenings Lifestyle Schools

Wolcott’s Haunted Forest Will Feature Spooky But Family-Friendly Fun

Wolcott Haunted Forest 2021. Photo credit: Sean Burns (we-ha.com file photo)

West Hartford’s Wolcott Elementary School will hold its annual ‘Haunted Forest’ event on Saturday, Oct. 22.

By Sean Burns

The Wolcott Children’s Forest will come alive with ghosts and ghouls of all kinds once again this weekend, as the Haunted Forest returns for another family-friendly night of fun and frights. Open to all, the Haunted Forest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22 from 5-8 p.m.

Tickets are $8 per person, with a family maximum of $30, with refreshments available for purchase. All proceeds benefit the Wolcott PTO and future events at the school. The event is cash-only.

In the Haunted Forest, Wolcott students and their families will have set up various “scenes” to frighten and delight, each with its own unique flair. Those who dare to attend will be guided through the forest paths by brave volunteers (primarily Wolcott teachers), who will do their best to make sure everyone who enters the forest with them makes it out. Prior year scenes have included a who’s who of Halloween favorites – from spooky graveyard scares to demented doctors to vampires and other monsters of lore. Even organizers really know what to expect until the day of the event, so the walk through the paths of the Haunted Forest is full of surprises for all who make the trek.

“The Wolcott family works hard to celebrate the unique and powerful voices of our students and families in many ways, and this event creates a unique opportunity to expand on that,” said Dan Luongo, an instrumental music teacher and multi-year volunteer after last year’s event. “The creative aspects of planning, costumes, music, scripts, and improvisation really offer opportunities to see students and families in a different light – literally and figuratively.

“Some skits are funny, some are scary, and many have a nice balance of both. I love seeing students and families create and immerse themselves in various characters. I found myself smiling ear-to-ear the whole time … even in line.”

Last year’s Haunted Forest saw record-shattering attendance as the first post-COVID event held for the Wolcott community. It drew scores of current and former students, with the line to enter extending all the way from the forest entry on the north edge of the school campus out to the parking lot. Estimates from Wolcott’s PTO indicated that over 1,000 guests joined for the event, and hopes are high that 2022 will see similar draw for families throughout West Hartford and beyond.

“We had such a great time on Saturday,” said Sara Demos Avery following last year’s event. “Our kids are at very different ages (two in pre-K, one in third grade, and another at Sedgwick), but the Haunted Forest was something they could all enjoy in their own way.”

As in years past, the first hour of Haunted Forest will feature a less-frightening version of the forest walk, suitable for those families with younger children. Once the sun goes down, the scares will get turned up, for those who dare.

In addition to the forest walk itself, Saturday’s event will feature a concession area in the field next to the school where families and kids can grab a treat (doughnuts, cotton candy and popcorn are typically available, as is cider) and socialize. This year will also feature a film in the field, with Charlie Brown’s Halloween-themed special played on a portable big screen playing throughout the evening.

So, whether you or your kids are horror-junkies looking for a good jump-scare, or simply want to enjoy an early light-fright before grabbing some cider and catching up with friends, the Wolcott Haunted Forest has something for everyone to enjoy.

Wolcott Elementary School is located at 71 Wolcott Road. The Haunted Forest event is centered on the northern side of the school campus, adjacent to the woods between the school and Wolcott Park. For more information, visit WolcottPTO.org or email the PTO at [email protected]. In the event of inclement weather, the Haunted Forest would be held on Saturday, Oct. 29.

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