With just over two weeks left until Halloween, businesses and organizations around the central peninsula are celebrating the season with themed events, celebrations and plenty of opportunities to get some candy.
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank
The local food bank is running the Trick or Eat food drive all month long, delivering barrels to businesses and collecting food to help feed residents during the holiday season.
Barrels can be found in Soldotna at First National Bank, The Fitness Place, Kaladi Brothers, Mossy Oak Properties, Fred Meyer, Mattress Ranch, among others.
The drive will conclude with a Halloween day event, “It’s Scary to be Hungry!” from 3-6 p.m. A drive-thru will be set up at the Food Bank, and people can come through and pick up free to-go meals, as well as make final donations for the drive.
Claire Jones, administrative assistant at the Food Bank, said there will be decorations on display and assorted treats and goodies for people and pets, donated by Starbucks in Soldotna and Peninsula Dog Obedience Group. Jones said the food bank is prepared to deliver around 250 to-go meals on Halloween.
For more information about fall festivities at the Food Bank, or to sign up for a Trick or Eat barrel, visit kpfoodbank.org.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
The wildlife refuge’s preschool programming, PEEPS, will be holding a special seasonally themed session on spiders on Oct. 20.
“Learn more about spiders, act like spiders, learn how cool they are,” Park Ranger Leah Eskelin said.
PEEPS is designed to provide kinesthetic learning for preschoolers, and prepare them for a classroom environment, she said. There will be hands-on, pretend play and movement, story time, snacks and crafts.
There will be two sessions for the PEEPS, at 9 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. Eskelin said kids do not need to register in advance, but the 9 a.m. session will likely be the quieter of the two.
For older kids, the annual Spooky Seasons is back in the Discovery Room on Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is interactive, self-guided, and will feature tables based on different animals — including bats, owls and spiders.
“Critters in the forest may be a little unknown, and that unknown makes them a little scary,” Eskelin said. “As you learn more about things, you become less fearful.”
She gave bats as an example, “At the bat table, you can find out how many mosquitoes they eat at night, which makes them one of my favorite animals.”
Eskelin said, beyond those two events, the refuge visitor center is open all month.
“It doesn’t have to be a special event for your family to come out, get some time out of the house, learn and experience cool things.”
Both PEEPS and Spooky Seasons are free for all ages. More information can be found on Facebook at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
North Peninsula Recreation Service Area
NPRSA will be hosting its annual 5K Costume Caper Halloween Fun Run at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center on Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. Instead of an entry fee, the organization is asking all participants to donate two canned food items as part of the Can Food Drive benefiting the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.
Over at the pool, the annual Pumpkin Plunge returns on Oct. 26. Kids from 4-10 years old are welcomed for free to “swim with pumpkins” from 5 to 6 p.m. The pool will be closed to all but the participating children, and filled with small pumpkins and other toys.
“It’s something fun for the community,” Pool Supervisor Nigel LaRiccia said. He said the event was started years ago when he was looking for Halloween programming, and saw other aquatic facilities doing similar activities. The Pumpkin Plunge quickly became a regular part of the rotation. Parents are not required to be in the water, he said. Pool staff and lifeguards will supervise in and out of the water.
Registration in advance isn’t necessary for either event.
Pilots and students from Kenai Aviation will be participating in the fourth annual Pumpkin Drop on Oct. 22. Pumpkins will be dropped from airplanes and fall to a spectacular splat on the runway at their facility in Kenai on Granite Point Court. There will also be a chili and cornbread cook-off, all free to the public, starting at 10 a.m.
Director of Station Operations Jacob Caldwell said the pumpkins are donated by local stores; the ones that can’t sell or sit on the shelf too long.
“It’s not huge amounts of mess,” Caldwell said. “But I’ve seen some good pictures here and there.”
For more information, or to register for the cook-off or as a pilot, visit Kenai Aviation’s page on Facebook.
Olde Goat Cafe
Nikiski’s Olde Goat Cafe is hosting a Pumpkin Carving Contest. Pumpkins can be picked up from the cafe on Oct. 22, with a $20 entry fee. Voting will start on Oct. 26, allowing four days for decorating. A winner will be named on Halloween.
May Snow, a barista and sandwich artist at the cafe, said the purpose of the contest is “just to kind of bring people together and get in the fall spirit.” The prize is a collection of gift cards from other local businesses — who will also be carving their own pumpkins as part of the fun.
“We’re looking for people to pour their creativity into a project and have fun again,” Snow said. “Whether that’s scary, whether that’s playful, just really take the time to express their creativity and share it with everyone.”
More information can be found at Olde Goat Cafe on Facebook.
Tsalteshi Trail Association
Tsalteshi Trails will host a couple of seasonal events for what they’ve dubbed “Spook Night,” Oct. 30. For younger children, aged 10 and under, Trick-or-Treat Trail will be running on a 1-kilometer loop of the grounds. For everyone else, the Zombie Run returns, encouraging kids, adults and families to get their costumes on and brave a 3-kilometer run.
Trick-or-Treat Trail will be running from 1-3 p.m., with $10 standard admission. There will be discounts for families with more than three children.
Administrative Coordinator Jenny Neyman said it’s a fun take on family-friendly trick-or-treating, taking advantage of the trail. Set up will be stations sponsored by a variety of local businesses and organizations, or “sometimes just groups of friends who want to do it,” with games and activities.
The Zombie Run starts at 12:45 p.m. has a $5 sign-up fee, and will feature a decorated stretch of trail. The race will be timed, but Neyman said she doesn’t expect the competition to be terribly fierce.
“It’s definitely more of a fun run than a race type of thing,” Neyman said. “You do you, ghosts and ghouls and zombies, if you want to motor through that thing at Mach 5, have at it.”
For more information, to register for the race, or to sign up to sponsor a Spook Night Station, visit tsalteshi.org.
Peninsula Dog Obedience Group
PenDog will be hosting Happy Howl-O-Ween on Oct. 29 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., inviting dogs and owners to come in costume to their location on Kalifornsky Beach Road for a costume contest and “Doggie Trick-or-Treat.” There will be cash prizes given for costumes in a variety of categories.
“This is one more opportunity to have fun with the dogs and bring the dog community together,” volunteer Linda Tannehill said. The trick-or-treat portion was added for dogs who aren’t as comfortable dressing up, she said. Booths will be run by the Kenai Animal Shelter, Peninsula Spay/Neuter Fund, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank and PenDog.
The costume contest will be outside, and dogs will be sent one at a time to be judged.
Trunk or Treat at Grace Lutheran Church & School, Oct. 26, 5-6 p.m.
Trick or Treat at Peninsula Center Mall, Oct. 29, 2-6 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at Boys & Girls Club in Kenai, Oct. 29 5-7:30 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at the Kenai Elks, Oct. 30, 2-4 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at Our Lady of the Angels Church 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Indoor Trick or Treat at Kenai Peninsula College, Oct. 31, 3-6 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at Kenai Christian Church, Oct. 31, 5-6:30 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at Orca Theater, Oct. 31, 5-7 p.m.
Indoor Trick or Treat Alley at Nikiski Community Recreation Center, Oct. 31, 5:30-7 p.m.
Trunk or Treat at Soldotna Church of God, Oct. 31, 6-9 p.m.
Editor’s Note: Some information was removed from this story.