Area residents flocked to Applegate Park Zoo last weekend for a scary good time as the annual Zoo Boo Halloween event took over the location.
Organized by the Merced Zoological Society as their largest fundraiser of the year, this year’s event brought in an amazing 2,035 guests, and served approximately 1,200 small children.
The fun started outside of the event as families lined up to enter the zoo, where children were greeted with candy, treats and carnival games run by high school Kiwin volunteers. This year’s vendors included: Advance America, Curves, CropMobster, UC Merced Child & Family Development, and the Baked Banana.
Once inside the event, family members followed a strange and dark path that led them to a fortune teller’s tent, a mad scientist’s lab, a castle ruled by Maleficent, and three giant dragons. They were also invited into the Rossotti Ed-Zoo-Cation Center for arts and crafts, dance music and close encounters with zoo animals.
Visitors were invited to pose with Cruella de Vil, Frankenstein’s monster and bride, or a light saber-wielding Sith lord to bring home memories from the event. For those looking to take their own selfies, a giant craft spider presented by JOANN Fabrics was onsite for families to pose around as well.
The Merced Zoological Society would like to thank those who helped bring the event together and make the night a success for the community. Sponsors for the event, along with a grant from Merced County First 5, assisted in purchasing the plethora of treats distributed throughout the night, including bubble solution, Playdough fun-packs, Mott’s Fruit Snacks, pirate prisms, granola bars, pencils in wild designs, and other treats. Other sponsors included Save Mart, Food4Less, Merced County Food Bank, Tru Chang Chiropractic, El Portal Dental, Curves and CleanEarth.
Community volunteers included UC Merced students, UC Merced clubs Hermanas Unidas and Delta Epsilon Mu, and zoo supporters. They all helped in decorating before hand, and distributing treats during the event.
Money raised will be used to help support physical improvements to the zoo — ranging from beautifying the landscape throughout the zoo to renovating buildings. In addition, funds from the event assist staff in purchasing supplies needed to continue animal enrichment efforts and acquire items on the zookeepers’ wish list that normally wouldn’t be included in their city-supported budget.