Halloween at an RV Park The entire month of October

ben quiggle Sep 15, 2021

Goblins, Ghost & Candy…Oh My! Halloween is Here
By Ben Quiggle

Here at my base in southern Michigan the signs of Fall have begun to show. Leaves are turning,
the weather is cooler, and pumpkins abound at the local farmers’ market.
Oh, and I don’t want to forget to mention pumpkin spice lattes.
For many northern park owners this is the time of year when they can see the light at the end of
the tunnel. Make no mistake about it, park owners love to see campers at their parks, but in a
year when many were swamped since early Spring and short staffed, there is definitely a need for
a small break.
However, there is still one extremely popular holiday on the calendar before many parks shutter
their doors for the season, Halloween.
Perhaps one of the most popular holidays in the outdoor hospitality industry, some parks report
that their Halloween-themed weekends sell out a year in advance.
“Our cabins are booked out for the whole month an entire year in advance too,” noted Judith
Durham, who owns the Hagerstown/Antietam Battlefield KOA Holiday in Williamsport, Md.
with her husband, John.
Started more than 32 years ago, Land-O-Pines Family Campground in Covington, La., has had to
increase the number of Halloween-themed weekends it hosts to keep up with demand, according
to Carol Everhardt, owner of the park.
The park now hosts five Halloween-themed weekends.
“The whole month of September is busy, and October is just crazy,” she noted.
Rustic Knolls Campsites and Cabins, located in Central Ohio, hosts three Halloween weekends
and Frank Biffath, owner of the park and affectionately called CampMaster Frank, said that those
weekends sell out fast.
“This year they were sold out before May,” he noted.
Why is the holiday so popular? Because campers love to dress up, decorate their campers, enjoy
fall activities and take in the beautiful fall weather.
For many park owners preparing for Halloween-themed weekends has become a labor of love —
and a decent profit center at a time when many campers are focused on school and other
everyday tasks.
At the 100-site Hagerstown KOA, the main attraction is a haunted house that the park has been
hosting for more than 25 years.

“It started as a hobby and evolved into a permanent fixture at the campground during the fall
months,” John Durham explained. “We started charging money for it and that allowed us to start
buying professionally made props. Now we have a house full of special animatronics, air-
operated equipment and more. We put on a pretty good show.”
John Durham said that it takes about eight to ten people to keep the haunted house up and
running and that 90% of the haunted house’s staff are volunteers. The park operates the haunted
house only on Friday and Saturday nights throughout October.
One of the larger attractions at the Cleveland/Sandusky Jellystone Park in Nova, Ohio, is its
Haunted Halloween Trail, according to Cherolyn Chiang, director of marketing for The Jenkins
Organization Inc., which owns the park.
The trail runs both at night and during the day (for the little ones), along with a Magical Pumpkin
Patch.
“For the Magical Pumpkin Patch, the park sells little baggies of pumpkin seeds that are sprayed
with clear adhesive and covered in glitter for $5,” noted Chiang. “When the sun goes down, the
park will take a group of kids who are participating to a fenced-off area that is called the Magical
Pumpkin Patch. Organizers make up a spell and one of the Yogi Bear-themed mascots will be
there with a wand to cast the spell on the seeds that the kids will put in the ground. That night
organizers will go out and put pumpkins out with each kid’s name on a tag and the next morning
a bear will escort them over to pick up their pumpkins. It is very successful.”
Other activities that parks offer include trick-or-treating, crafts, a DJ, costume and site decorating
contests, cook offs and more. The sky really is the limit.
Don’t want to scare your campers? There are numerous activities you can host that take the scare
out of Halloween.
Maybe you want to start with non-scary weekends and then lead into scarier activities as the
season progresses. That is possible too.
At Land-O-Pines they focus on creating specific themes each week, with the first week being
focused on kids.
“It is non-scary and is geared towards the smaller children,” explained Everhardt.
The themes change every year for the rest of the Halloween weekends. The second weekend is a
Ghostbuster theme, with an alien-themed weekend planned for week three.
“We've done zombie, Tim Burton and Stephen King themes in the past,” Everhardt noted. “The
last two weekends are pretty much anything goes, full-blown Halloween-themed weekends.

“One year we did a zombie apocalypse, and we constructed a full-blown obstacle course where
zombies were roaming around, and the kids had to try to make their way through the zombie
course without losing their lifeline,” she added.
The important thing to remember is that Halloween is about having fun.
“Halloween just always works,” explained Everhardt. “I don't care what activity you do; October
is just one of the best months of the year. People absolutely love Halloween. Everything about
it.”