Red Butte Gardens hosts halloween storytelling for kids

By By Alex Cragun, Staff Writer

By Alex Cragun, Staff Writer

[email protected]Although many people search for ghost- and ghoul-related events around Halloween, Red Butte Garden is offering a more family-friendly environment this month.

The annual Storybook Garden After Dark event offers children the opportunity to listen to Navajo storytelling, make paper bag puppets and sing karaoke on stage.

“We come here every year,” said Cherrie Dare, who brought her grandchildren to the event Friday night. Dare said her grandchildren have attended the event every year for five years.

The event is open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30.

Red Butte encourages children to come dressed as their favorite storybook character for the night. Volunteers and staff dress up as fairy-tale villains or heroes as well.

Patrick Newman, program director at Red Butte, said he feels most activities around Halloween focus on fear and gore, and the gardens offer an alternative centered on family, fun and education.

“I feel the highlight of the event is the storytelling,” Newman said. “Native American stories (will be) told along with the art of sand painting.”

This is the program’s 10th annual after-dark special. Newman said it relies heavily on volunteer assistance to pull it off.

“In total, we require about 65 people to hold the event,” he said. “We have about a 2-1 ratio of volunteers to staff.”

Newman said most nights are fairly low key, but the opening and closing nights are always packed, even though they offer the same activities.

“I’m volunteering for an English class, to tell the truth,” said Ashley Akins, a volunteer and business major at Salt Lake Community College. “I think it’s fun for kids because it’s outside and they have activities to do (as opposed to going to a mall to trick-or-treat).”

Akins said she believes this type of activity is an alternative to regular Halloween festivities that is both safe and fun for children.

The event is spread throughout the garden with check-off points highlighted by different activities. Once all points have been checked off, children are rewarded with a small tree to plant in their backyards.

“It’s good to have the kids in an open natural environment with their parents,” said Catherine Knight, an employee at the garden and U alumna. “Kids have less and less opportunities to come outdoors in a space that is a little more wild and not be scared by it.”

For more information on Storybook Garden After Dark, contact Red Butte Garden at 801-581-4747.

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