The purportedly haunted grounds of Smith Nature Park will be the site of the Upper Arlington Civic Association's annual ode to Halloween next week.
The fourth annual UACA Golden Bear Scare will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 22-24 at Smith Nature Park, 1340 Fishinger Road.
Organized and sponsored by the nonprofit UACA, the Golden Bear Scare is geared for children in grades 1-8.
It features guided tours through the forest, which UACA President Tony Callander said originally was selected "because it already was haunted."
ThisWeek Upper Arlington News could not confirm if the park indeed is possessed or cursed, but UACA officials guaranteed witches, ghosts and other ghouls will make their presence known throughout the Golden Bear Scare.
"The forest does run in a pattern," said Patrick Murphy, who, along with Rich Cheung, is co-chairman of the UACA's 2013 Golden Bear Scare. "There are ghosts and goblins and there's Smith's Prison."
Admittance to the Golden Bear Scare is free, and while it embraces some of the darker imagery and activities associated with Halloween, Murphy said it's designed to cater to teens and young children.
He noted the event each night is "fairly passive" until 7:30 p.m., when it becomes "increasingly haunted."
"The Scare Rangers keep everything age-appropriate, so the kids leave feeling brave for going through -- even if they held a parent's hand the entire time," Murphy said.
The UACA hosts the Golden Bear Scare to celebrate fall and Halloween, Murphy said, and it's yet another event put on by the organization to fulfill its mission -- in effect since 1933 -- to foster community spirit through the tradition of events.
Other UACA-sponsored events include the annual Fourth of July Parade & Party in the Park, Labor Neighbor Day and Christmas in the Park.
"It's for the community, but more importantly, it's for kids in the community," Murphy said. "We have a group of high-schoolers we consider 'junior' members that help out tremendously, as well as past members.
"We couldn't do this without all of their support."
Throughout the trek through the forest, Scare Rangers will explain the history of Smith Nature Park and how it came to be haunted.
Along the way, travelers will encounter ghoulish inhabitants, including "actual zombies," who are said to watch over Zombie Hill and who are agitated by the sight of children ages 6-13.
On Oct. 22, the park's witches are expected to bring back their "Dime-a-Doug Night."
A press release touting the event stated, "The promotion was so successful last year that they ran out of Doug and had to switch to sloppy Joe."
Last year's three-day event drew more than 2,500 Upper Arlington residents.
"It was a lot of fun watching the kids come through," said Murphy. "For anyone that's curious about the Upper Arlington Civic Association, this also is a great time to come out and see what we're about."
Additional event information is available at UACA.org.