Upper Arlington News

Golden Bear Scare

Annual event returns Oct. 23


The "haunted grounds" of Smith Nature Park will teem with ghosts and ghouls again this month when the Upper Arlington Civic Association hosts the annual Golden Bear Scare.

The UACA is seeking help from local youngsters in finding three organization directors who've gone missing in Smith Nature Park, 1270 Fishinger Road.

On Oct. 23, 24 and 25, the civic association and its "scare rangers" will lead searches through the park in hopes of possibly finding those directors and otherwise celebrating the Halloween season during the Golden Bear Scare.

"Last year, we had about 2,500 kids go through and we expect the same amount this year," said Marty Wyzlic, UACA director-in-charge. "This used to be the Haunted Castle, but I believe this is our fourth year for the Golden Bear Scare.

"We say there was a prison on there that made the grounds haunted. We'll have a graveyard, clowns, those kinds of things. It's pretty scary stuff, but no blood or gore."

The Golden Bear Scare provides separate tours for younger children to avoid too much fright.

Tours of approximately six to 10 children each -- parents can accompany them -- will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for younger children.

The spooks and surprises will ramp up a bit during tours for older children, which will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. each night.

There is no cost to take hikes through the park, but glow bracelets will be available for purchase.

"It's just simply fun," Wyzlic said. "We say, 'Getting in is easy. Getting out is hard.' "

Among other features of the Golden Bear Scare are Zombie Hill, the Witches' Station, the Graveyard, haunted clowns and, Mongo, a troll who guards a park bridge.

The entire event is run by volunteers from the UACA, a group of Upper Arlington residents who have been organizing and hosting community events since 1923.

The organization has hosted an Upper Arlington Christmas decorations contest -- now known as Night of the Lights -- since 1944, and it also inaugurated the community's Youth in Government program in 1955 and the Labor Neighbor Day event in 1959.

The UACA funds the Golden Bear Scare through donations made by community members. Most contributions are made during The Walk, the UACA's annual membership drive held in April.

Additional information about the UACA and the Golden Bear Scare is available at uaca.org.

"It's just a great family, fun event," Wyzlic said. "Anyone is welcome. Any age."