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Small goblins come out to play at Willow Park’s ‘Boo at the Zoo’

By Megan Allen

LOGAN–Nearly 2,000 people, mostly Cache Valley residents, gathered at Willow Park Zoo recently to scare up some Halloween fun. At the seventh annual “Boo at the Zoo,” children, and some of their parents, showed off their costumes and played Halloween-themed games.

Troy Christensen, board chairman of the zoo, said Boo at the Zoo was started as a promotional event to market, promote, and raise money for the zoo.

“We wanted to remind people that we’re here,” he said. Boo at the Zoo has proved to be a great event over the last few years, he said.

Stacie Nimer is the education coordinator at Willow Park. She said she started working there last fall. Nimer said she was hired to start the week after Boo at the Zoo, but volunteered at the event anyway. This year, she was in charge of planning and executing the event.

Participants can come to Boo at the Zoo just to see the animals and participate in a few of the activities, or they can buy a punch pass which gives them even more access to fun things.

“We sold about 400 punch passes,” Nimer said.

A highlight of Boo at the Zoo is the animal scavenger hunt. Children walk around the park finding different animals’ cages by looking at pictures of them. Once they locate them, they must find a word hidden somewhere on or near the exhibit. Once they find all the animals and words, they form the words into a sentence and exchange it for a prize.

One child, excited by the scavenger hunt said, “Mom, this is just like Blue’s Clues!”

Another favorite activity of the day is the “Animal Encounter,” Nimer said. This is a chance for children to get up close and personal with the zoo animals.

“We usually use animals like the owl and our boa constrictor,” Nimer said.

The zoo staff held a story time twice during the day that also featured live animals.

Within the next couple of weeks, the Boo at the Zoo committee will sit down and discuss what did and what did not work, Nimer said. “That meeting will be our opportunity to discuss the success of the individual booths and overall scheme of the day.”

“This is a great event,” one mom said as her daughter ran around in a ladybug costume. “It’s a fun, inexpensive way to get the kids out of the house, have a good time, and get a little more use out of their costumes.”

NW