By Jenelle Franklin
As Michigan’s fall season takes shape, the children shapeshift into creatures, career professionals, movie characters and more.
Saturday Oct. 15 was a day in the park, Rolling Hills County park, where the community participated in the Monster Smash from 12-3 p.m. It was a chance for costume test-runs and treat collecting. A punch card of nine games to be fully completed for a prize, cider, donuts and a hayride were available.
On the hayride, Amy Ashford from Toledo, Ohio and her grandson Jayden Sims, dressed as batman, took in the views of Rolling Hills with sunny weather and a mild breeze..
“I work in Saline, and after signing up for the emails at the water park this summer, we found out about this,” Ashford said. Sims is planning next year’s costume, as Ashford said the event is one they will be returning to in 2017.
“I really want to see the bats,” Sims said. The bats came from Cranbrook Institute of Science.
“One of our park naturalists went to Cranbrook,” event organizer, Rhonda Bouma said of finding the mobile bat cave Sims and other children were looking forward to.
The bats brought to Monster Smash are tropical creatures and require certain temperatures, the Cranbrook employee mentioned when deciding when it would be best to bring the bats out. The weather topped out at 74 degrees on Oct. 15, according to Weather Underground.
The Halloween event at the park was a newly orchestrated one, entering its second year. Allison Richards, park and facilities supervisor was pleased with the 2016 event.
“It was well attended and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. The kids loved the idea of the punch card and I think it added one more touch to the event. The hayride was a nice change of pace too! I am pleased with how everything went. Hard work really does pay off,” Richards said.
Half way through the event, the line kept steady as parents, children and some costumed pets arrived.
“The weather has cooperated, we have a ton of activities for the kids and it’s been a good turn out,” Bouma said, “Social media is the majority of promotion for the event, besides our website and emails signups.”
The event was a quick favorite of Cali Curlee, 19, of Ypsilanti. Curlee was a first time attendee to the Monster Smash.
“This is my new favorite, before it was the family camping event,” Curlee, a Rolling Hills employee said.
Curlee recently took a sociology class at Washtenaw Community College over the summer and hopes to return to WCC next summer for statistics.
In the meantime, Curlee will spend her days at Rolling Hills, where the visitor count is lower after the waterpark closes but the park rangers, maintenance and facilities teams stay to care for the 363-acre park year-round.
“This park doesn’t get all the publicity in the fall, people tend to forget about the park after summer, but it’s a beautiful, well-maintained park throughout the year,” Curlee said.
Winter activities include sledding and cross-country skiing. Tuesday Nov. 1, there is a free event for community members to bring their carved pumpkins to roll down the sledding hill and aim to hit the provided targets. 3-7 p.m.