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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2010
CONTACT: Kristin Lock, (850) 245-2112, (850) 778-7294 (cell)

Florida State Parks Welcome Autumn with Fall Festivities

~Visitors are invited to celebrate the season with family fun throughout Florida~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida State Parks is hosting a variety of fall festivals full of family fun this month. From Halloween alternatives to seasonal celebrations, Florida’s award-winning state parks are hosting events for all interests.

“Fall is a great time to be outdoors and there’s no better place to enjoy the season than in a state park,” said Florida State Parks Director Donald Forgione. “State parks fall festivals showcase the creativity of park staff and volunteers in featuring Florida’s natural and cultural resources in a fun way.”

The history and heritage of Florida will be highlighted in many events around the state, including Forest Capital Museum State Park in Perry, Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs. Other fall festivals feature music, food, forest enchantments and hayrides.

Upcoming state parks fall festivities include:

NORTHWEST FLORIDA

HAUNTED TRAIL AND FANTASYLAND
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa Beach F
riday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

A spooky hayride is available for adults and older children while younger children can explore Fantasyland, with trick–or-treating, fun games with prizes and face painting. Tickets for the hayride are $5 per person and Fantasyland tickets start at $1. Drinks and food will be sold for donations with all of the proceeds going to the Friends of Topsail Hill State Park for improvements to park facilities and services. Park entrance fee will be waived for participants. For more information, call (850) 267-8330.

SECOND ANNUAL ARC GATEWAY ADVENTURE
Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola
Saturday, October 23, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Big Lagoon State Park, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Inc., West Florida Key Club, Big Lagoon Kiwanis Club and the Northwest Florida Environmental Conservancy present an opportunity for persons with disabilities of the Pensacola ARC Gateway program to experience outdoor and environmental activities. Event activities include a sea turtle program, arts and crafts, nature walk and a scavenger hunt. Park entrance fees will be waived for participants and sponsors. For more information, call (850) 492-1595.

ANNUAL ST. MARKS STONE CRAB FESTIVAL
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, St. Marks
Saturday, October 23, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Stone Crab Festival is a local festivity held in the center of historic downtown St. Marks with live bands and a variety of food vendors, featuring seafood and stone crab. The Natural Bridge Historical Society will represent the Confederate period of Fort San Marcos de Apalache and reenactors from the Mission of San Luis will represent the Spanish heritage of Florida for visitors of all ages. As a part of this festival, San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park will offer free entry to its museum. Entrance fee will be waived for participants. For more information, call (850) 922-6007.

FIFTEENTH ANNUAL DESTIN FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Henderson Beach State Park, Destin
Saturday, October 23, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 24, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This fine arts festival will feature more than 100 artists, a children's interactive art area, live music and a bistro food court. Park entrance fees will be waived for participants, festival donation is $3 per person and children under 12 are free. For more information, call (850) 650-2226.

SPIRIT OF THE CAVERNS
Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
Friday, October 29, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The Friends of the Florida Caverns will host a safe alternative to trick or treating. Based on local history and folklore, the Spirits of the Caverns event will include children's games with prizes, an interpretive haunted tour of the cavern, a haunted trail, historians, spirits and folklore interpreters and more. Soft drinks, pizza and popcorn will be available for purchase. Park entrance fees will be waived for participants. For more information, call (850) 763-0390.

NORTHEAST FLORIDA

HAUNTED HALLOWEEN
Crystal River Preserve State Park, Crystal River
Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The Friends of Crystal River State Parks, along with Florida Entertainment and Recreation Volunteers, Inc. (F.E.A.R), will host a spectacular Halloween event along the Crystal River eco-trail featuring a haunted house, haunted tram ride, children’s activities and spooky movies. Admission will be $5 for adults and children age 4 and under are free. Admission to the haunted house is $5. For more information, call (352) 563-0450.

SECOND ANNUAL PUMPKIN FEST
Big Shoals State Park, White Springs
Saturday, October 23, 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

This one-day annual event invites participants to enter a children’s pumpkin decorating contest and a costume contest for both kids and adults. Admission is $2 per person or $4 per carload and includes entry into all contests, drinks and snacks, live music, twilight camp fire with marshmallows roasting and a park ranger lead hike with hundreds of Mexican free-tailed bats. For more information, call (386) 867-1639.

55TH ANNUAL FLORIDA FOREST FESTIVAL
Forest Capital Museum State Park, Perry
Saturday, October 23, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Florida Forest Festival's King Tree Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. in downtown Perry and then it's on to the Forest Capital State Park for an afternoon filled with fun and entertainment. At noon the world's largest free fish fry will be served. Entertainment and displays will be available all day; event is free. For more information, call (850) 584-5366.

ALLIGATOR FEST
O'Leno State Park, High Springs
Friday, October 29, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The entire family will enjoy the annual Alligator Festival which celebrates the early history of Columbia County, before 1859, when Alligator Town was renamed Lake City. Visitors will experience a Native American gathering with dancers, musicians, artisans and traders and a living history event including a reenactment of the September 1836 Seminole War Battle of San Felasco Hammock. This event is free with paid park admission. For more information, call (386) 454-1853.

Haunted Tram Rides
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa
Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Enjoy spooky scenarios along Pepper Creek Trail, a haunted house, costume contests, face painters and clowns, refreshments and souvenirs. On Friday afternoon from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., volunteers from the Citrus County Sheriff's Department will be offering their child ID program. Haunted tram rides will be available, $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under; admission to the haunted house is $2. For more information, call (352) 628-5343.

CENTRAL FLORIDA

ENCHANTED RAVINES
Ravine Gardens State Park, Palatka
Saturday, October 23, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

This event features children’s games and trick-or-treating in a safe, fun environment, provided by local businesses and organizations, as well as a moonwalk, crafts and face painting. The enchanted forest, wagon tours and refreshments are also available for families of all ages. For more information, call (386) 329-3721.

HAUNTED TRAILS
De Leon Springs State Park, De Leon Springs
Saturday, October 23, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Participants can walk the haunted trail and stop at stations along the way for tricks and treats, as well as enjoy pumpkin decorating, games, storytelling, refreshments and a loot bag. Admission is $3 and children 6 and under are free. For more information, call (386) 985-4212.

BARKOWEEN
Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach, Flagler Beach
Friday, October 29, 4:00 p.m.

Participants can bring their canines to the park to join in a dog costume contest, tricks for treating and a ranger led doggie nature walk. The event, sponsored by Woof Gang Bakery of Flagler Beach and the Friends of Florida State Parks, will be held along the Intercoastal Waterway and the one-mile Joe Kenner Nature Trail. Proceeds benefit the upcoming Second Annual Gamble Rogers Memorial Music Celebration hosted by the Friends of Florida State Parks. Dog registration is $10 and includes contest entry, treats, nature walk and a keepsake photograph. For more information and to register, call (386) 517-2086.

PHANTOMS IN THE FOREST
Silver River State Park, Ocala
Saturday, October 30, 7:00 p.m.

Presented by Friends of Silver River and the Ocala Storytelling Guild, this annual event will be held in the Cracker Village with stories presented by professional (and not so professional) storytellers sharing family-friendly spooky, silly and funny tales. Refreshments will be on sale; admission is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item. For more information, call (352) 236-7148.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

THIRTEENTH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN IN THE PARK
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This safe alternative to trick or treating, sponsored by the Friends of the Island Parks and the Florida Park Service includes face painting for the kids, fortune telling for the parents, games, storytelling with the Dunedin and Palm Harbor libraries, food and fun. There is a scary trail for the older children and adults complete with a haunted house. Bring a flashlight, a bag for collecting candy and bug spray. A $10 donation includes 10 free game tickets. For more information, call (727) 469-5942.

EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL HAUNTED WOODS
Hillsborough River State Park, Thonotosassa
Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This event features a spooky guided trail through the woods after dark for adults and older children with strange and scary things that may make you scream. For those more cautious family members, a fun harvest celebration including costume contests, children's activities and tram rides through the Halloween decorated campground will take place Saturday night only. Admission is $5; children ages 5 and under are free. For more information, call (813) 987-6771.

WILD N’ WICKED NIGHTS
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Activities for this event include a mermaid show, a haunted boat ride, a stage show, kid’s maze, a haunted forest, carnival, contests and a bazaar. Admission for adults is $13, children ages 6 to 12 is $8 and children under 6 are free. Annual pass holders will receive 50 percent off admission. For more information, call (352) 592-5656.

THIRTEENTH ANNUAL MYSTERY MAP EVENT
Little Manatee River State Park, Wimauma
Saturday, October 23, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This year’s theme is “A Day at the Beach.” Participants will receive a trail map to follow and activities to complete along the way. A mystery person is timed on the trail and the person finishing closest to the mystery person’s time wins. Participation is $20 per person and includes lunch. For more information, call (813) 677-9291 or (813) 634-2228.

HALLOWEEN IN THE WOODS
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, New Port Richey
Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Event features two haunted trails, one for small children and one that is a little more intense and fun for all ages. Hayrides, food and drink and an inflatable bounce house will be available. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children. For more information, call (727) 816-1890.

ANNUAL GREAT OUTDOOR ADVENTURE DAY
Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach
Saturday, October 30, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

As part of the event this year, Lovers Key will partner with Lee County to celebrate the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival. The event will feature canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard clinics and demonstrations, guided paddle tours, bike tours, beach walks, live animals, living pirate and Calusa history, a marine life touch tank, birding programs, a gopher tortoise burrow cam, fishing clinic, kids’ games, solar observation through telescopes and live music. Regular park entrance fees apply. For more information, call (239) 463-4588.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA

HAUNTED FORT
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West
Friday - Sunday, October 22-24, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 31, 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Join us for a frighteningly fun celebration of 'All Hallows Eve' as Fort Taylor is transformed into The Haunted Fort. Ghostly helpers will be around to guide visitors through a maze constructed in the fort's casemates where they're guaranteed to encounter things that go bump in the night. A special children’s day is held on October 24. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for military, $5 for children ages 5 to 8; children under 5 are free. For more information, call (305) 879-0091.

HOWLING HAMMOCK
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Fort Lauderdale
Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This is a haunting, screaming, terrifying fun time at the easily-accessed Beach Hammock Trail. Kids and parents will be guided through an adventurous series of spooky stations along the trail filled with ghouls and critters and frights, as well as an environmental theme. Activities also include costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, trail rides and more. Admission is $3 for children or $10 for a family of up to four. For more information, call (954) 564-4521.

FIRE FEST
Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound
Saturday, October 23, 5:30 p.m.

A fun and adventure-filled, free family event focusing on fire safety and the importance of prescribed fire, in partnership with the Florida Division of Forestry, will begin with a firefighter relay and night burn demonstration followed by a haunted river trail, hayrides, campfire stories and marshmallow roasting with Smokey Bear and a spooky maze. Boy Scouts will sell hot dogs, hamburgers and other refreshments, and family-friendly activities include face painting and Jack o’ lantern judging at the Kimbell Center. For more information, call (561) 745-5551.

About Florida State Parks
Created in 1935 by the Florida Legislature, the Florida State Park system has grown from eight to 160 parks in the last 75 years. Today, the Florida Park Service manages more than 700,000 acres of Florida’s natural environment, including 100 miles of beaches, eight National Historic Landmarks and 39 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Florida State Parks have been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association as the nation’s first and only two-time Gold Medal winner for the nation’s best park service. For more information on Florida’s state parks, visit www.floridastateparks.org.

Big Lagoon State Park

"Fall is a great time to be outdoors and there’s no better place to enjoy the season than in a state park."

Donald Forgione
Florida State Parks Director

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10–157

Last updated: January 25, 2011

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