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Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities

  • Darling Farms, Penngrove, CA

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
October 19, 2018

There are plenty of local activities to do this month to get families into the Halloween mood, from pumpkin patches, to haunted houses, to carnivals and trick-or-treating. 

Our local cities are getting into the Halloween spirit by offering various activities for families. Cotati is offering Cotati City Hall-oween on October 31 from 1:30 to 5:30 where children are invited into the various city departments in city hall to show off their costumes and receive some special treats.

“This event is open for any age, and can be a really good first time trick or treat experience for little ones since it’s early and safe,” says Ashley Wilson, Recreation Coordinator for the City of Cotati. “All of city hall with be decorated and the different departments will be decorated as well.”

During the City Hall-oween, Farmster, the Operator of the Veronda-Falletti ranch across from city hall, will be handing out a healthy snack and will be giving out information about composting. After Halloween the ranch will open up to the public to compost their pumpkins. Farmster will then plant the pumpkin seeds and grow them so the community will have a local pumpkin patch next year. 

“It’s a great way to get rid of your pumpkins without trashing them,” says Ashley. “And with the seeds being used for next year’s pumpkins, it’s a win/win for everybody.”

On October 27 the City of Rohnert Park, in conjunction with University Elementary School at La Fiesta PTA, will sponsor a Halloween Carnival at the Rohnert Park Center on 5401 Snyder Lane. Live animals from Classroom Safari will be present, as well as a kid-friendly haunted maze, a magician, a costume contest, games, crafts, and free candy for all. 

“It was an idea our department came up with as a whole,” explains Cindy Bagley, Community Services Manager for the City of Rohnert Park. “Last year we did a series of events called the Second Sunday Family Fun series. We did a special event every second Sunday of the month, from September to May. We didn’t get a ton of participation for the money we were spending on the events so this year we wanted to consolidate a few events throughout the year but do them bigger.”

The free, family-friendly event is suitable for all ages and will include jump houses, pumpkin decorating, and a costume parade at 1:00. Children are invited to check in between 12:00 and 12:45 for the parade. The live DJ is being provided by Dax Entertainment. 

“It’s a city event,” says Bagley. “But we reached out to the local elementary schools’ PTA organizations to see if they wanted to participate in our event and do fundraising. We didn’t want to compete with the local schools that were doing their own harvest fairs and Halloween carnivals. We wanted to try and combine efforts and get everybody together.”

This year University Elementary decided to participate, and will be providing three carnival games and will be selling non-alcoholic beverages and pizza. All the funds they raise will go to their school’s PTA. In addition, the Rotary Club will be selling beer and wine with funds going to their organization. There will also be other food trucks and vendors providing carnival-type food such as corn dogs and funnel cakes.

On October 29 at 6:30, the Rohnert Park-Cotati Library will host a “Not-So-Scary Halloween Story time” for 3 to 6 year olds, with picture books, a Halloween craft, and a bedtime snack. The children are encouraged to wear their costumes. 

“We are also having a Dia de los Muertos story time on Saturday, October 27 at 2:00,” says Jennifer Duran, Youth Services Librarian for the Rohnert Park-Cotati Library. “It will be a family story time and then we will follow it up by decorating sugar skulls. These events are kind of a kick-off to the holiday season and there will be many more events in the library system, October through December.”

For older children, teens, and adults, Blind Scream Haunted House is operating from October 12 to October 31, with two huge haunted houses under one roof this year. The two themes, encompassing over 20,000 square feet of frightfulness, include “Lil Horrus’s Fun House” and “Doc’s Horrortorium.” The haunted house is open Thursday through Sunday, as well as October 30 and 31, and is located in SOMO Village, at 1500 Valley House Drive in Rohnert Park.

Sonoma State University’s RHA (Residential Housing Association) will again host a Safe Trick or Treat Day for children on October 28th, from 1 to 3pm on the Sauvingon Greens, which is open to the surrounding community. Clubs and villages will host different children’s games with fun prizes. Residents in Sauvignon Village will also be handing out candy to those who come trick-or-treating at their house, so costumes are highly encouraged.

While many of the county’s pumpkin patches are not in our immediate area, Darling Farms on Petaluma Hill Road in Penngrove does have a great selection of pumpkins to pick, and they offer a jumpy for kids as well. Children will also love the huge, purple inflatable Halloween spiders greeting them at the front of the farm stand.

“We also have a lot of decorative gourds for sale, in addition to our regular selection of fruits and vegetables,” says Garritt (“Doc”) Darling, owner of Darling Farms.

So, parents can pick out their fruits and vegetables while kids pick their perfect pumpkin and let off some steam in the jumpy. The farm is open everyday from 12 to 5:00.