Ghosts, goblins and zombies invade Idyllwild

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It’s baaaack! All manner of frightful characters will take over the town of Idyllwild this Halloween. The Idyllwild Community Center kicks off the Halloween season with Ghost Town — Oct. 18, 19, 25, 26, 31, and Nov. 1 and 2, now in its 10th year. Live actors and animatronics set the stage for a frightfully good time. The family event, which runs the entire month of October, raises funds for education. This has been our best year ever,” said organizer Kat Wilson. “We’ve added two new rooms this year and changed all of the others. We also have some great new costumes,” she added. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 13 and younger.

Zombies invade the streets of Idyllwild starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.  The race begins at Alderwood Cabins on North Circle and ends at the Idyllwild Ghost Town at the ICC site. The race is partly on the streets and partly in the woods; in total, about a mile long. Registration is $25 and includes a Zombie Run T-shirt. Runners are invited to register online at but there is no entry fee for zombies (because they are dead and have a difficult time keeping a job).

Each runner starts the race with three lives — in this case, three red flags. The object of the Zombie Run is for runners to make their way through the zombie-filled course  — grabbing is involved — without losing lives. Lose three lives and you’re dead — not literally, but you are out of the race. The top three finishers will receive medals and bragging rights. “This is the first year of the Zombie Run and so far, response has been great,” said Wilson. After the Zombie Run, Jo’An’s will host a Zombie Aftermath Party and all participants and observers — dead or alive — are welcome.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, Idyllwild’s version of the wildly popular “Slender Game” will start at Ghost Town and move throughout the woods behind ICC. The original game was created by Parsec Productions and is somewhat of a global phenomenon. The object of Slender, who is a paranormal creature, is to find eight manuscripts about him; the more you collect, the more aggressive Slender becomes in trying to defeat you. The Idyllwild version will be played more like a scavenger hunt and will be entertainment-appropriate for the entire family. For more information contact Kathy Wilson at 951-659-3228 or

Idyllwild’s Great Pumpkin Parade will kick off at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. The parade will start on North Circle near Café Aroma and will end in the center of town where the Great Pumpkin Carnival will be in full swing from 5 to 8 p.m. The carnival will feature game booths, bounce houses and costume contests with the winners in each age group winning gift certificates and/or prizes from local businesses. Monies raised will benefit the Idyllwild School Booster Club for outdoor education trips to destinations such as Catalina and Idyllwild’s Astrocamp.

Patty McKee, who passed away on Sept. 10 of this year, is credited with beginning Idyllwild’s Halloween celebrations. “The whole thing started at my elementary school,” said Jennifer McKee, Patty’s daughter. “My parents moved to Idyllwild from San Diego and realized that there was nothing for the kids to do on Halloween. She wanted to find a way for kids to enjoy Halloween with the community but in a safe environment.” Patty McKee started by organizing a small carnival at the elementary school and also encouraged local merchants to stay open and hand out candy,” said Jennifer.

Patty’s sister-in-law, Jan Boss, explains, “The school decided to stop hosting [the carnival] because of insurance problems, so we moved it downtown. I remember the first carnival we had downtown; we had about five booths tucked between buildings and it rained like crazy.” Boss doesn’t recall the year, but explains that the carnival was eventually turned over to Craig and Janice Coopersmith who she felt did a “good job with it.”  Boss acknowledges how important the carnival was to both her and Patty,

Jennifer, explains it best remembering a conversation she shared with her mom. “My mom once said to me, I think it was after an ‘Oprah’ show, that some people have a calling in life. She felt like her calling was to make kids happy. Owning the Candy Cupboard and being part of the community was very important to her because it brought joy to so many children. I feel like the parade is her legacy and a wonderful way to honor her and her love for this community,” said Jennifer.

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