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>> CREEPY CRAWLY CARNIVALS PILE ON THE CHILLS WITH HAUNTED HOUSES AND HAYRIDES AT THREE LOCATIONS!
Region's YMCAs to host Creepy Crawly Carnivals

 Frankly fun: Creepy Crawly Carnival coordinator Tiffany Keyser, with her son Zealand, at Massad YMCA last year.
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Date published: 10/20/2011

BY COLLETTE CAPRARA

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

If a giant squeal is heard throughout the area next weekend, it just may be sound of the collective glee of families enjoying three annual Creepy Crawly Carnivals hosted by our local YMCAs.

Although the YMCA's Halloween festivals have been celebrated throughout the years, this is the first time that all three branches will be hosting their events at the same time on the same day.

All three carnivals will share three major features: a carnival area with games and crafts, a hayride and--the long standing favorite--a haunted house. Proceeds from the festivals will go to the Jay Massad support fund, which provides financial assistance for families in need to participate in the YMCA's programs.

The carnival areas will feature games for all ages, ranging from toddler favorites (such as pick a duck and the fishing booth) to skill tests such as a football toss and a witch-hat ring toss. All participants will receive a choice of treats or prizes at each of the carnival stations.

Take-home crafts will include ghost-pops, Halloween noisemakers, personalized goody bags, cookie decorating and pumpkin decorating. Other activities may include face-painting, a tattoo station and inflatables.

Each facility will present its own unique mix of games, crafts and special attractions.

The Massad and Rosner carnivals will include mazes constructed of giant appliance-sized boxes, and this year the Y's Massad branch will be adding a walk-through cemetery.

Hayrides will be offered in two versions--a spooky journey in which goblins and ghouls will appear and approach the wagon, and a non-scary version where riders can simply experience the night sky and the crisp autumn air.

The haunted-house displays are not for the faint of heart, providing places where the talent and imagination of each of the YMCA's teams of volunteers have their chance to shine.

This year's theme at the Rosner branch is the "Frightmare Factory." The impact of various zombies, vampires and mad scientists will be enhanced with strobe lights, fog machines and black lights.

The Massad branch will offer a haunted insane asylum, including a hayride with a haunted circus theme (the brainchild of Learn & Serve student volunteers). Watch a demented ringmaster narrate scenarios with scary clowns and creepy sideshows.

The haunted house at the Y's King George branch is a literal work of art, conceived and created by a high-school student who, for the second year, designed the scenarios, created the costumes, wrote the story line and constructed the sets with the help of fellow student volunteers.

This year's theme will be the Grimm Brothers' "Twisted Tales."

King George's haunted house has been so popular that the YMCA will be hosting this feature during the weekend after the carnival as well.

All three carnivals are the product of a generous investment of time, energy, talent and support of staff and community members. Each evening, as many as 40 volunteers lend their hands to make the festivals possible and up to 400 visitors come to enjoy the fun at each locale.

Collette Caprara is a local free-lance writer and artist.


What: Creepy Crawly Carnivals

When: Oct. 21-22, 7-9 p.m. Info: family-ymca.org (click branch) MASSAD YMCA Where: 212 Butler Road, Fredericksburg; 540/371-9622 Cost: Single tickets $6, family of four $20 (admission includes all activities) ROSNER YMCA Where: 5700 Smith Station Road, Spotsylvania; 540/735-9622 Cost: $3 for each event area: carnival, hayride, haunted house KING GEORGE YMCA

Where: 10545 Kings Highway, King George; 540/775-9622

Cost: $2 hayride, $3 carnival, $5 haunted house (open till 10 p.m.) Note: Encore Haunt Weekend at King George YMCA, Oct. 28-29, 7-10 p.m.