ZooBoo spooks locals, provides fun

The Hattiesburg Zoo kicked off ZooBoo Oct. 25, its annual Halloween event that offers guests games, activities and food in a weeklong celebration.

A ticket to the event includes unlimited train and carousel rides on the Spooktacular Express and the “Carou-Spell,” according to Nicole Ruhnke, communications manager for the Hattiesburg Convention Center Commission.

Guests will also receive access to Trick-or-Treat Bingo, games along the Trick-or-Treat Trail, Animal Encounters, a villain-themed animal show, a nightly dance party and the hands-on Zookeeper lab experiment, “Jeepers Creepers.”

Kelly Ellis, special events manager at the zoo, was pleased about the turnout of nearly 1,000 people on opening night.

“The [event has] actually grown each night,” she said. “It’s fun for all ages; we’ve got a lot of children that come and adults that come with their kids. We have some college groups that have come and a couple of lovebirds on dates that have come and enjoyed the night.”

Ellis has been working with employees and volunteers non-stop to make the event a success, but she says it’s all worth it.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing all the kids faces and seeing what their costumes are, and it just takes a ton of work to pull off this event,” she said.

“It really helps to see the kids’ faces light up with they see an attraction that we know we’ve worked hard on, and we can tell that our hard work has paid off.”

Patricia Kauhane, 38, of Columbia took her 4-year-old son to the event Friday evening. “We rode the train, played games the [volunteers] set up, got some candy, had a dance party, pet some kind of large lizard and learned about animals,” she said. “It was perfect for a 4-year-old.”

Tickets cost $8 and cover admission to all events from 5:30-8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the gate. Dinner is available at the “Creepy Café” at additional cost.