Texas State Parks Offer Interesting Halloween Alternatives

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AUSTIN, Texas — Some Texas state parks this year will take advantage of Halloween falling on a Sunday just few days after the Oct. 28 full moon by offering a variety of "tricks and treats" for families in the great outdoors.

On Oct. 23, Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site in northeast Texas will host quilting activities and a quilt exhibition in conjunction with the City of Paris’ annual Festival of Pumpkins. Park visitors will be able to quilt a few stitches on the Festival of Pumpkins 2004 quilt, which will be on display through Thanksgiving. The quilt festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Historic quilts belonging to the Maxey family will be displayed for the entire month of October inside the 1868 Victorian-style home of the former Confederate general and U.S. Senator. Call (903) 785-5716 for more information.

How about saddling up a camel for a special overnight trek at Monahans Sandhills State Park west of Odessa? Make your reservations for the "Full Moon in the Dunes" outing on Thursday, Oct. 28, by calling toll-free (866) 6CAMELS. The cost for adults is from $200 to $375. The rate for children 12 and younger is half price.

The following state parks will host special Halloween events on Saturday, Oct. 30.

Big Bend Ranch State Park features one of the spookiest settings for Hallowed eve activities in the moonlit desert along the Rio Grande. The park’s Contrabando movie set, which includes a number of adobe structures, was featured in the made-for-TV movies as the "Streets of Laredo" and "Dead Man’s Walk." The modern day movie set along the Camino del Rio west of Lajitas will transformed into a haunted ghost town featuring a haunted house, gypsy fortune-teller, games, refreshments and ghost stories around the campfire. Wear a costume and join in "The Haunting of Contrabando" from 6:30-10 p.m. The fee is $3 per person. Call (432) 424-3327 for more information.

"Fireside Storytelling" at Mission Tejas State Park near Grapeland in east Texas will feature fireside tales of fact and fiction spun by park ranger John Tatum, a member of the Tejas Storytellers Association and East Texas Storytellers Guild. Tatum promises an evening (7:30-9 p.m.) of entertaining and age-appropriate Halloween stories. Call (936) 687-2394 for more information.

Lake Texana State Park in Edna will host a Halloween party, weather permitting. Children of all ages can enjoy a hayride along the Haunted Trail, games, and costume and pumpkin-carving contests. The party will be held from 7-9 p.m. Call (361) 782-5718 for more information.

Park volunteers will host a Fall Festival at Lake Houston State Park near New Caney. There will be a will variety of activities for youngsters, exhibits and a haunted forest trail. Call (281) 354-6881 for more information.

In addition, Halloween parties are scheduled on Oct. 30 at Galveston Island, Guadalupe River and Martin Dies, Jr. state parks. For more information, visit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Web site (http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/calendar/).