Most often occupied by athletes, the Tsalteshi Trails were overrun by miniature warlocks, witches, minions and “Frozen” princesses during this year’s Spook Night Trick-or-Treat and Zombie 5K last Sunday.
Around 200 participants flock to the event each year, said Coordinator Carly Reimer. All the money collected during the fundraiser is funneled back into the Tsalteshi Trails Association, she said.
“The first year we did it in the dark and… it was too cold,” Reimer said. “One year we had pouring, pouring rain. We were drowned, but we still had 150 kids, so that was pretty cool.”
Now in its fifth year, the event had clear skies as well as an abundance of dogs in costume in addition to their owners.
Spook Night’s 15 sponsors, including Central Emergency Services, the Soldotna Police Department and Sportsman’s Warehouse, lined the trails at intervals to hand out candy and other treats to passing children and their families.
Carolyn Russell and Amy Utecht teach the fifth grade at Redoubt Elementary and were decked out in witches’ garb as they gave out treats at the top of a hill. Utecht, who was volunteering for the first time, said a lot of the costumes she saw on the trails were unique and creative.
“We’re definitely supporting the teacher’s union… and it’s a super fun event,” she said. “It’s really fun to see all the kids in their costumes and dogs and parents and everything.”
The costumed kids got to try their hand at archery at their last stop along the Trick-or-Treat trail, where Sportsman’s Warehouse was set up with a bonfire and target practice.
The Kenai Peninsula’s youth weren’t the only ones who got to play pretend at Spook Night. The Zombie 5K had 31 adult and young adult participants, many of whom also wore Halloween costumes.
Some families came in costumes with a clear theme, such as the Lakers from Kasilof. Julie Laker was dressed as a garden gnome along with her husband, Mark, her 7-year-old son, Chase, and her 4-year-old son, Leif.
Laker said attending Spook Night is part of her family’s annual Halloween tradition. The active family participates in many other Tsalteshi Trails events and races.
“I love to do outdoor things in the fall,” Laker said. “We do the 5K’s in the summer the skiing in the winter.”
Raising awareness about the trails and promoting outdoor activities is one of the best things about Spook Night, Reimer said.
“I think a lot of people come that don’t even know the trails are out here and I just think it’s such a great opportunity for little guys to do an event outside and be on the trails in the woods,” Reimer said. “You know, we live in Alaska so (they’re) experiencing the outdoors and still trick-or-treating.”