Some volunteers will be wearing costumes as part of the Haunted Woods, and guests are welcome to wear costumes as well.

Those who are interested in a fun Halloween event that isn’t occurring on Halloween itself can look forward to lots of enjoyment and excitement for kids and adults at the 29th annual Haunted Woods.

Happening at Hillsborough River State Park on Friday and Saturday, October 20-21 from 6-10 p.m., this is an event with fun, spooky times for the whole family.

“We have the trail; we have a DJ out there; we have a dance area; we have dance contests, and costume contests for the kids; and we have a kids area,” said Walt Williams, president of the Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society. “We don’t recommend anybody under 13 going on the trail because it gets so scary out there sometimes.”

Be warned, however, that even adults have been known to get terrified by the monsters lurking in wait on the Scare Trail, according to Williams. If anyone gets too scared, they only need to tell a Haunted Woods attendant and they’ll be taken from the trail safely.

The ‘No Scare Zone’ has been expanded this year and will include the new ‘Enchanted Woods’ for younger guests, coming with treats, crafts and more.

There are also volunteer opportunities at the Haunted Woods, such as wearing costumes around the area, scaring guests on the Scare Trail and working with food, among other things. This year, it is anticipated the event will need about 300 volunteers. Volunteers will be able to earn service hours while enjoying food and having fun. All applicants will be background-checked.

Attending costs $10 per person, cash only, but children ages 6-12 are just $5 and visitors under 6 are free. All proceeds from this event will go toward the Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society and help improve the park. Among other things, the proceeds will assist in raising the $100,000 needed for restoring the park’s Fort Foster, as its wooden structures have deteriorated. So, with events like Haunted Woods, just coming by and having fun can help the park.

Hillsborough River State Park is located at 15402 U.S. Hwy. 301 N. in Thonotosassa. For more information about the Haunted Woods or to volunteer, visit

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Taylor Wells
Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.