During the weekend of October 22 & 23, park staff will present their version of Halloween-themed programs entitled “Freaky Fauna”. Programs are aimed at educating park visitors about animals known to instill fear in many people. Park Ranger, Sharon Hanzik explains that “most of these fears are unfounded and based mostly on misinformation or the lack thereof. Although information is at most people’s fingertips via smart phones and the internet, it takes an educated and informed individual to alleviate these fears by clearing up this misinformation and demonstrating that although some species may be dangerous, they are also beneficial to their ecosystems.
For instance, learning that all spiders are venomous may be a shocking revelation. However, one must also be informed that most spiders do not have venom that is toxic to anything larger than their insect prey.” Hanzik also tells us that “there is also superstition and myth surrounding certain animals such as owls being a sign of death or that handling toads will give you warts, neither of which is true”.
Programs will include topics such as owls, snakes, bats, alligators, pond life, toads and spiders and will be presented in different formats including hikes, story time, slide shows and demonstrations.
All programs are free with park admission. The park’s Nature Center is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and houses live animal displays including venomous and non-venomous snakes, baby alligators, pond life and a wealth of other natural history exhibits interpreting wetland, forest and tall-grass prairie ecosystems.
Individuals looking for a more traditional Halloween outing can attend the park’s annual “Halloween Classic Movie Night” on Saturday, October 29, 2011. This year’s feature, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, will start at 7:00 pm and will be held at the park’s outdoor amphitheater.