The hum of aquarium filters reverberated within the walls of the small building located behind the concession stand on Presque Isle. Kids from a 4-H group bustled around tanks of frogs and turtles, reading fact sheets about the critters. Just outside a family snapped photos of geese grazing off the path of Presque Isle Park’s bog walk.
The MooseWood Nature Center will be turning the bog walk in their backyard into a spooky and haunting Halloween spectacle the evenings of Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22. This year marks the 17th year of the Haunted Bog Walk event hosted by the Nature Center.
Scattered around the bog walk you will encounter creatures and scenes from your wildest nightmares as the theme for this year’s walk is “Halloween Nightmares.”
Guests will be led in groups through multiple scare stations after being greeted at the entrance by the Grim Reaper.
Those hosting the event predict that you will be left checking the darkness over your shoulder to make sure the horrors are truly gone.
This event is the largest annual fundraiser for MooseWood Nature Center which is responsible for many environmentally interactive programs and is staffed primarily by volunteers. MooseWood opened 20 years ago when there were no other nature centers in the Upper Peninsula.
“We saw a need to provide environmental education,” said Scot Stewart, board coordinator for Moosewood.
Funds raised from the Haunted Bog Walk help cover the costs of various school programs and programs for the public such as frog surveys, maple syrup workshops, birch bark crafts workshops and mushroom walks.
A group of approximately 15 students are dropped off at MooseWood after school weekly as part of a program organized with Marquette schools. The kids are engaged in activities including tree identification and water quality testing.
Stewart explained that the center serves as an interpretation center for the island where many students, community members and tourists can turn to for information.
“It provides them with a way to connect with the out-of-doors,” he said.
Volunteers, interns from NMU and MooseWood board members are behind the efforts required to keep MooseWood thriving despite being low-budget.
“On one hand we have kind of a shoestring budget where we scrape along, but on the other hand because our budget is so low, we’ve been able to get through times when a lot of nature centers downstate have had to close because they can’t afford the costs of operation,” Stewart said.
Despite being comfortable with the number of volunteers signed up to help with the Haunted Bog Walk, Stewart encouraged anyone still interested in volunteering for the event to contact the center.
Volunteers composed of equal parts members of the public and students are advised that long-johns are a necessity. Runners will be bringing scare station volunteers hot chocolate and cider throughout the night.
Guests attending the event will be led through the bog walk starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m.
Tickets for the Haunted Bog Walk can be purchased at the nature center. Tickets are $7 for adults, and $5 for children under 12. Hot chocolate and snacks will be provided.
More information about upcoming events and other environmentally based volunteer opportunities can be found at moosewood.org.