ORGANIZING an event like the Haunted Playground takes months of advance planning. Tasks required of Masquers included consulting with fire, police and other town officials to obtain permits and learn public safety protocols. Participating in one such meeting were (from left) Officer Tim King, underclassmen representative James Dillon, Treasurer Caroline Schladenhauffen, Secretary Christina Musgrave, Historian Brian Conlon, upperclassmen representative Lucy Wagner, Vice President Mason Murray, President Gianna Naulivou and Deputy Fire Chief Barry Galvin. (Courtesy Photo)

Dozens of activities for all ages!

 

By ALLIE HASTINGS

NORTH READING The spirit of Halloween is in the air, as North Reading’s very own Masquers is proud to present their third annual Haunted Playground, which will be taking place this Saturday, October 23 from 5:30-9 p.m. outside at the Batchelder Elementary School playground.

This family-friendly event will feature entertainment from local a cappella groups and storytellers, as well as a haunted maze, character greetings, magic tarot card readings, a scavenger hunt, costume parade, face painting, horse-drawn carriage rides, and all-new carnival games provided by WNConcessions and Entertainment.

Shuttle bus runs every

15 minutes

Parking will be made available in the upper lot of the North Reading High School, where families can hop aboard the shuttle van, which will run up and down the NRHS hill approximately every 15 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m. Hayrides, a scavenger hunt, and a performance by the NRHS a cappella group, NOTEorious, will kick off the night’s festivities.

Spooky story-telling, five a cappella groups to perform

Performing Arts Manager and Masquers Director Allison Kane is excited to offer new experiences to the community of North Reading this year. In addition to hosting more a cappella groups, including The Crescendos from Chelmsford, The Sachimes from Saugus, Luminescence from Marblehead, and Soundscape from Wilmington, the members of Masquers will be putting on more skits and haunted tours for those who stop by.

Magic tricks, fortune telling, haunted horse-drawn

carriage ride

Families can enjoy the Halloween spirit together and get their fortunes read by local professionals, watch magician Peter Jackson perform enchanting tricks, listen to the spooky stories spun by Masquers storytellers, and learn about the tale of Ichabod Crane on a haunted horse-drawn carriage ride, which will queue by the corner of the Batchelder School.

Kane feels that this entire event is for the family, as the Haunted Playground is made to bring out the magic and energy of being outside, getting dressed up, and enjoying time together as a community.

“Masquers is about storytelling. Masquers is about making magic and putting forth positive energy and hard work for a common goal. That’s what this event embodies for us,” she believes.

Wear your Halloween costume!

As the Haunted Playground is set to evoke a Halloween-esque atmosphere, Masquers students will be dressed in costumes from previous years’ shows as well as handmade outfits designed for the night’s festivities. Children who come with their families are encouraged and welcome to wear their own Halloween costumes too (please leave any fake weapons that go with those costumes at home, however).

Food, food and more food!

As always, food will be offered at the Haunted Playground; those attending the event will be able to choose from an array of dinner options provided by local restaurant favorites, such as the Horseshoe Grille, China Cuisine, Kitty’s, Andrea’s, Lobster Claw, Harrows, Cal’s Creamery, Hill Orchard Farms, and more. A separate concessions tent selling snacks and fall-themed drinks, including hot apple crisp, will also be available.

As this is an outdoor event, mask-wearing will be optional while partaking in activities on school grounds. Hand sanitizer will be made available at all stations and performances will have timed slots so that members in the audience can practice social distancing.

Kane is thankful for the community’s efforts to help make the Haunted Playground a possibility this year, as she recognizes that putting on any kind of program in today’s Covid-cautious climate takes a village.

“The Haunted Playground has been a staple in North Reading for over two decades. It was an important activity that my family looked forward to and I firmly believe we all need these events for our social emotional well-being. I am so grateful for everyone in town and in the district who has worked alongside us as we planned this event,” she expressed.

Please note: While the Haunted Playground will be taking place outdoors where masks are optional, masks must be worn in the shuttle van and inside any of the public school restrooms. Pets and costumed weapons will not be allowed on the premises. Attendees are welcome to park in either the upper lot or the rear of the lower lot at the North Reading High School/Middle School complex. Parking will not be allowed at the Batchelder School, except in cases where ADA accommodations may need to be arranged.

Free admittance; some special event fees

Admittance to the Haunted Playground is free; some activities have a small cost of $2 to $5 associated with them. This is a cash-only event credit cards and Venmo will not be accepted. Masquers strongly encourages attendees to purchase tickets for the haunted tour upon arrival before they sell out.

NRHS community service hours

NRHS students can still volunteer for community service hours to assist at this event. Those who may be interested in working the event at night can reach out to Peter Kane at pkane@nrpsk12.org.

For a complete agenda of the night’s haunted happenings, visit the North Reading High School Masquers page at http://masquers.weebly.com/haunted-playground.html.