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Recreation Department Delivers Halloween Fun
Ghouls of many kinds inhabited Jacob Myers Park over the past weekend, as part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s Haunted Hayride. Volunteers created and staffed a number of scare sites. Visitors traveled the route on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Ric McGinnis/The News

The popular Haunted Halloween Hayride resumed once again this past weekend after being dormant last year due to the pandemic. The crisp air and dark trail through Jacob Myers Park was the perfect setting once again for the event that was held Oct. 22 and 23. With both nights sold out, the ‘Haunted Hayride’ was well received. Luckily, organizers avoided the stormy parts of the weekend, nestled neatly between Friday morning’s showers and the heavy, nearly overwhelming rain of late Saturday night and Sunday.

“It was great being able to do the hayride again,” said Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick. “It is a lot of work but the community really seems to enjoy it.”

Former Riverbank Parks and Recreation Supervisor Kerrie Webb was brought out of retirement to help organize the event. Webb and Fitzpatrick started the Halloween tradition around 18 to 19 years ago. At the time City Manager Rich Holmer really liked the idea of the Haunted Hayride and wanted them to run it for an entire week, according to Fitzpatrick.

“We did it for a few years for three nights and then reduced it to two as we were pretty exhausted,” said Fitzpatrick. “Many city employees would bring their entire families to do sites and I would gather all the kids from my neighborhood. It was fun and we have a lot of great memories.”

The hayride is organized by the city staff and heavily depends on volunteers. There were about four trailers taking guests through the woods to approximately 12 scare sites. Fitzpatrick expressed that they should have had five trailers to fit the demands.

Volunteers do everything from serving as designers and creators of the scare sites in the western end of the park, to the actors, those selling tickets, selling refreshments, and loading or unloading passengers on the trip.

Four city pickups, towing trailers holding about 15 passengers each, stretched out along the biking and walking trail in the western end of the park. The number of riders varied, according to Fitzpatrick, depending on how many young ones rode on their parent’s laps.

Early Saturday evening, Fitzpatrick said they had counted about 374 riders on the course on Friday night.

“It was hard to get enough help,” she added. “City staff from other departments helped a great deal as well as members of the Friends of Jacob Myers Park and that got us through. I don’t think we could have done it without Kerrie Webb and her group of friends.”

Owner and Operator of Soulpatch Tattoo Shop Dano Friedman and crew hosted a scare site as well as Webb and her friends that manned three sites. There were a few recreation leaders, park employees, and members of the community that also participated.

“We had a pretty good team to manage the event,” noted Fitzpatrick. “The hayride is very staff intensive. If we can get more volunteers, we would like to do it again next year.”

The Halloween festivities for the city will continue with the Barkoween Doggie costume contest held at the dog park at Jacob Myers Park on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is a $10 fee to enter the contest and dog owners are encouraged to dress up as well. The winner will receive a prize. For more information call 209-863-7150.


News Correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this story.

The sites were set up for guests this past weekend at the Haunted Hayride where guests were warned to “Enter If You Dare.” VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
A terrifying clown was just one of the surprises that greeted visitors to Riverbank’s Haunted Hayride in Jacob Myers Park over the weekend. A number of scare sites were built and put on by volunteer groups throughout the back of the park on its biking and hiking trail. Ric McGinnis/The News