River Park North

The entry sign of River Park North, where "The Haunting at River Park North" will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24.

River Park North, located at 1000 Mumford Road, will present “The Haunting at River Park North” on Oct. 24 for children to experience a safe Halloween-themed event amidst the start of the holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Admission for the event will be $5 for Greenville, North Carolina residents and $7 for non-residents. The event will have three different sessions: the first from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the second from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and a final session from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Multiple sessions were established to lower the number of people in attendance at once due to COVID-19.

Andrew Wimsapp, the Parks Program assistant of River Park North and supervisor of the event, said “The Haunting at River Park North” is a different variation of the annual Halloween event that River Park North normally hosts.

“Due to COVID-19, we had to make modifications and so we rebranded the program this year to emphasize and to explain how we are changing due to the impact of COVID-19,” Wimsapp said.

This year, due to COVID-19, the park had to take a different approach to its annual Halloween event which was called the “Creepy Crawly Fest” in past years, Wimsapp said. To keep better track of people coming in, the River Park North staff changed the process to include pre-registration instead of holding an open event, he said.

River Park North will limit the number of guests in attendance and will hold the event during the day on a Saturday opposed to a weeknight as it has been in years past, Wimsapp said.

“Our goal is to introduce people to wildlife that they don’t usually see in the day, such as nocturnal animals such as owls, bats, bears as well as exposing them and teaching them about animals to reach out to the public and let them know theft can still come out here and learn about nature,” Wimsapp said.

Brad Williams, the parks program assistant at River Park North, said he will be there to take pictures and assist with different attractions at the event. He said there will be clean up periods between sessions and that the staff will sanitize doors, counters, and other surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said everyone is required to wear a medical mask even if they have a costume mask on.

Williams said at previous years’ “Creepy Crawly Fest(s)”, there were activities such as pumpkin carving, making roasted marshmallows and many others. He said COVID-19 caused a lot of these activities to be scrapped or redesigned in order to encourage social distancing. For example, the snake event was made so the children could not touch the snakes but they still have the chance to be close to them, according to Williams.

“I think everybody has been stuck inside for so long now, for over seven months now people’s kids have been stuck inside. This won’t be much interaction here, we have a limited number of seats available. We just hope kids can get out and enjoy nature and enjoy different activities for Halloween,” Williams said.

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