Eek, Boo! at the Zoo returns for the 2021 Halloween season

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Area residents wait in line to enter Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City for the 2019 Boo! at the Zoo event. Approxiamtely 5,500 individuals attended the Halloween fund raising event for the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo organization in 2019. The popular event is returning after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boo! at the Zoo is back.. 

After being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends of the Lee Richardson Zoo's Halloween fundraising event returns on Oct. 16 from 4-8 p.m. for it's 26th year.

Proceeds from the event go towards improvements at Lee Richardson Zoo.

Jessica Norton, executive director of FOLRZ, said it's great to see the event happening again. 

"I'm very hopeful for a good turnout, we're down just a few treat spots, but not a considerable amount," she said. "I think it's going to be a really great event regardless. I'm just very thankful that the people that have sponsored it and the treat stops that have signed up, so now we're just waiting for all the Boo! at the Zoo goers to come, we're excited."

Boo! at the Zoo is a Halloween themed, family friendly event at the zoo where event goers have the opportunity to come and trick-or-treat inside the zoo at "treat stops", booth put on by local businesses, city entities, organizations and individuals, Norton said. Typically there are between 30-40 treat stops, which they will have this year.

"You will go in through the entrance of the zoo and you go to a station where a business  has set up their treat stop and they hand out candy," she said. "It's like trick or treating but the short version, you don't have to go door to door, you just go treat stop to treat stop through the zoo."

Employees of Hopkins, Hopkins and Ackerman, LLC, chose a "Toy Story" theme and costumes for their booth to hand out candy to patrons during a past Boo! at the Zoo.

Treat stops are decorated and a decorating contest is held among the treat stations, Norton said. Doctors George Hopkins, Scott Ackerman and Adam Drees of Garden City's Hopkins, Ackerman & Drees Optometrists have been the winners for the past 25 years, since the event started.

"They do go all out, they do an absolutely wonderful job, but I know there's other treat stations that are just vying to take them down," she said. "I can't wait honestly to see what they're doing this year, I'm not really sure what they're going to be doing, but everybody does a great job."

Also at the event will be singing witches and a ghoulish graveyard. The Safari Shoppe will also be open where they will be selling hot dogs, ice cream and other snacks and beverages.

Norton said her favorite thing about the event is seeing everybody smiling, she's excited for the event to be back this year.

"Every year when I look back at all the photos that people give me to use for the event, I see the kids smiling, the people that are handing out candy are smiling," she said. "It's really nice to see everybody, the community coming together and hold such a nice event for the children and I love that everybody loves it. Honestly, I think it's great, I used to bring my children to it before I lived here and I've been to quite a few of them."

The event will be very similar to years past, Norton said. The only differences are in regards to COVID-19 where the treat stops are spaced out a bit more, some signs reminding people to social distance and there will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the trick-or-treat trail. 

"It's not a huge difference, but that's what we're doing, because we want everybody in the community to feel included in this event and like they can come and take their precautions, whatever they feel safe doing and hopefully everybody had a great time," she said. 

How to get tickets and event times:

General admission tickets are on sale through Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. for $5, admission for children two years and under are free. They can be purchased at the FOLRZ office at the Finnup Center located at 312 E. Finnup Drive in Garden City, El Remedio, Ward's Garden Center and Blue Fox Boutique.

Tickets at the gates are $10 per person. 

Skeleton key passes, tickets for members with a family/grandparent membership or higher, are $15 each for children ages three to 12 and $20 for those 13 and over. The passes include a Haunted Hay Ride, an extra goody bag and a special entrance allowing them to bypass the general admission line.

They are sold exclusively at the FOLRZ's office. 

For more information on the event or anyone who wants to wants to volunteer, contact the FOLRZ at 620-276-6243 or director@folrz.com.