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Haunted hikes and ghoulish gatherings

WILLISTON The Catamount Family Center is undergoing a scary change, and families looking to add a little spice to the ritual of Halloween should get ready for outdoor theatre that has been described as unique and exciting.

For two weekends in October, the Williston recreational venue is hosting the famed Haunted Forest. Tickets are available now for the weekends of Oct. 18 and Oct. 26.

The event itself is 27 years old this year and it's been at the Catamount Family Center for the last six, said Jana Beagley.

She noted that before moving to Williston, the event was hosted by the Audobon Society in Huntington. After 20 seasons, the society didn't need it as a fundraiser anymore and the forests devoted volunteers decided that the event was to important to abandon.

We are now an independent 501(C)3 non-profit organization, continued Beagley.

The organization found a location for the forest at the beautiful Catamount Center, which is situated on 500 acres of beautiful wilderness, land that is kept open for people to experience the great outdoors, including cross country skiing and mountain biking.

Beagley said that a great deal of work goes into the organization and creation of the Haunted Forest.

One mile of Catamount's trails is lined with jack-o-lanterns, all carved by volunteers, and there are 600 to 800 pumpkins in all, said Beagley.

Also located along the trails are 11 Halloween themed vignettes authored by Vermonter Joe Citro, who has published several collections of New England Ghost Stories and poems. The Vermont Community Foundation established a grant through their arts endowment to help pay Citro for his work.

This has been a banner year for us, added Beagley. We have had an impressive fundraising campaign and we also computerized our volunteer functions.

Volunteers have helped to put up sets on the trails and throughout the woods at the Center, complete with props.

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