Halloween haunts, trails on tap locally for kids and adults

Emilee Geist

It’s that time of year again when kids dress up in costumes to attend local Halloween events from trails to haunts and pumpkin carvings. The Ohio State Reformatory is gearing up for another year of opening the prison-turned-museum into a haunted attraction. “Escape from Blood Prison” will offer visitors a […]

It’s that time of year again when kids dress up in costumes to attend local Halloween events from trails to haunts and pumpkin carvings.

The Ohio State Reformatory is gearing up for another year of opening the prison-turned-museum into a haunted attraction.

“Escape from Blood Prison” will offer visitors a scare or two from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 Fridays through Sundays (7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 7 to 10 p.m. Sundays) at 100 Reformatory Road.

Gates open at 6 p.m. 

Visitors must be 10 years old or older to enter the annual haunted prison event.

Tickets are $25 per person or $55 per person for the ultra lighting pass. For ticketing information, call 419-522-2644. 

Fans of the ghoulish Halloween tours which attract thousands of people each fall at the Ohio State Reformatory are permitted to wear costumes but must remove any masks upon entering the prison, according to the website for “Escape from Blood Prison.”

For almost two decades, the Reformatory has been a top Halloween venue in north central Ohio. 

The Halloween-themed event is a fundraiser for the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation society preservation, allowing the board members to make renovations and repairs to the structure, which serves as the site for many events including Civil War encampments, weddings and the INKcarceration music and tattoo festival.

“The Shawshank Redemption,” filmed mostly at OSR and throughout central Ohio in 1993, has put Mansfield on the map with tourists from all over the world.

When the old prison first opened in 1896, initially housing 150 young offenders, its presence was the result of a long campaign by local leaders who wanted a prison built. The castle-like structure, incorporating elements from Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne architecture, housed more than 155,000 men before it closed Dec. 31, 1990.

Other area haunted events include:

The Trail of Nightmares 2021, 4135 Ohio 309, Ontario, opens at 7 p.m. Oct. 1. Gates open at dusk and the trail starts at dark. Tickets $20. Anyone under 4 feet tall is admitted for $10. Groups of 16 or more is $15 each. Cash only. ATM and food truck on site.

The Haunted Carrousel at the Richland Carrousel Park will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 1, which is also First Friday Fright Night — when the carousel runs backwards, according to Sharon Bishop, carousel director. Kids can wear a costume and get a free ride and then at 7 p.m. a costume contest will be held.

Kingwood Center Gardens, a public garden estate in north central Ohio, will once again be aglow with the lights of thousands of jack-o’-lanterns this fall at the beloved Great Pumpkin Glow.

Now entering its 9th year, the Great Pumpkin Glow is back for two weekends in October. The Great Pumpkin Glow is open from 5-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 5-9 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 16-17 and 23-24. Timed tickets to this all-weather event are available online starting in September at kingwoodcenter.org for $10 or $8 for members. Children 6 and younger are admitted free.

With the addition of Kingwood’s new Garden Gateway visitor center and garden features, The Great Pumpkin Glow offers a new and refreshed autumn experience for the whole family. Visitors can stroll Kingwood’s 47 acres decked with stunning display of glowing pumpkins as they enjoy live music, local food trucks, Greenhouse Glow, Lil’ Carvers Carnival, Fall Market, Scarecrow Row walking path and more. In addition to grinning, wildly creative pumpkins carved by members of the community, Kingwood Center Gardens will be filled with glittering light displays, dramatic gourd exhibits, beautiful fall chrysanthemums an enchanted forest and glow merchandise for kids of all ages, according to Kingwood.

Pumpkin Glow parking is at nearby Mansfield Senior High School parking lots with event entry through the Linden Road. gate only. Attendees should plan on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to their ticket time to allow for walking to the admission gate. Limited shuttles will be available for handicap parking.

Kingwood will only be open 5-10 p.m. during Pumpkin Glow and will close on Mondays following the event, Oct. 18 and 25.

Tickets are $8 members, $10 non-members  and 6 & under are free.

Also on the haunted event list is Fall Folklore: Making & Mystery at CaliFarmer, 705 Mansfield-Lucas Road, at the site of the former Webels Fruit Farm, now owned by Andy Vaughan and Rich Until. Family pumpkin carving will be held 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 16. Cost is $20. Snacks will be provided.

Also at CaliFarmer is a second event for adults. Folklore, Food, Bonfire Making at 3 p.m. Oct. 16. $45 including meditation, making witches torches, herbalism, beet and turnip Jack-O-Lanterns and tarot readings. Snacks will be provided. BYOB.

Pop-Up stores

Locally, a pop-up Halloween store called Spirit Halloween has opened in the Richland Mall in Ontario until the first week of November at the former location of Chuckie Cheese.

Manager A.J. Moore said popular costumes for adults is anything Hocus Pocus with the Sanderson sisters, a lot of vampire and horror stuff. Little kids are interested in the horror stuff and princess costumes.

Her own son Jaxson wants to be a clown but is still debating on wearing a Sam costume from the horror film.

The store opened in August.

Halloween decorations are sold, including the Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus and more.

Leon Scott Lamb, 1, is planning to be Oogie Boogie from the “Nightmare Before Christmas” movie, she said, talking to his grandmother.

The city of Ontario Recreation Department is holding its third annual Haunted Hollow Trail on Oct. 30 in Marshall Park.

The event is for ages with a family friendly trail where kids can walk through and see the scenes, get candy and more. 

A scary trail will have a lot of activity. scaring and screaming, according to the city’s website. 

The family-friendly trail is open from 5 to 6:30 p.m. (all ages.)

The scary trail will be open from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and is appropriate for older kids and adults.

Cost is $5 for all ages up to 17 years old. And $10 per person for those 18 and older.

The event is at the trail in Marshall Park next to the dog park on Dunlap Drive.

The trail is a community event and fundraiser for school and non-profit organizations and the Ontario Recreation Department, operated by high school and middle school volunteers and community members.

The Village of Lexington will hold its 2nd annual Halloween Walk along the Richland B & O Bike Trail 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 23 from Heartland Church to the recycle bins with live music, free candy along the trail and fun family time. A costume contest will be held at 2 p.m. at the Lexington Senior Center.

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