12 Oct The Enchanted Forest – A Not So Spooky Halloween Experience
Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary hosts its annual Enchanted Forest on the evening of Friday, October, 27 – the Friday before Halloween – and it is a unique opportunity for families to travel through the woods after dark, encountering more fun than spookiness, while learning about the creatures that populate our forests, meadows and waters.
Sixteen tours will host 15 “travelers” each along the sanctuary’s trails, led by a guide with a light. Along the way, each tour will encounter stages set up throughout the journey, each one presenting a specific, interactive nature skit, explained Patricia Austin, the sanctuary’s Visitors Services Manager.
“You’ll meet a live snake at one juncture and live goats at another,” she said. “You’ll learn about owls, horseshoe crabs and whales. At one stage, a 6-foot tall “Pollinator Fairy” will explain the workings of a pollinator garden.”
“There will also be a banjo-playing duo singing about how it’s not easy “bein green” right from Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog’s repertoire.
“Of course, you will encounter lots of surprises on the trails, and get educational and fun “treats” you can take home with you to remember your journey,” said Austin.
The first tour of “travelers” heads out at 5:30 pm, and then every 10 minutes after that until 8 pm. Austin emphasized that because each tour is comprised of only 15 travelers, pre-registration is required. “They fill up fast,” she cautioned.
To register, go to the program catalog at massaudubon.org/longpasture. Prices are $10/$12 for adults (members/non-members) and $7/$9 for children. Costumes can, of course, be worn, and most of the “Guides” will be dressed up too. Large handled paper bags will be provided, and Travelers will feel like they are going trick or treating because there is so much stuff to be accumulated.
Among featured presentations will be a major taxidermy exhibit sponsored by the Town of Barnstable. All the wild animals exhibited were unfortunately hit by cars or poisoned by insecticides used on lawns. Austin said, “It’s quite beautiful and an awesome lesson about our impact on surrounding wildlife. They have been restored so well, and are stunningly life-like. You can stare directly into their eyes, as though they are approaching you,” explained Austin. “As a result, taxidermists have transformed tragedy into vivid educational opportunities.”
At the same time, there will be many creatures that are very much alive, like goats. Stacey Greaves, owner of Goat Green Cape Cod, has made Cape Cod her home for over 30 years. With a life-long passion for animals, she started her company in 2015, her 14 goats help manage Cape Cod’s overgrown vegetation and invasive plants, all without the use of harmful herbicides, which adds a healthy balance to the ecosystem.
“Stacy lets children learn how to walk and pet goats, discover their amazing digestive system, and explains how they manage invasive weeds,” explained Austin.
At another stop along the Enchanted Forest, be prepared to encounter owls. Sanctuary Director, Ian Ives, will be doing a skit that includes his troupe up in the trees wearing owl masks made by professional costumer Viola Mackenthun.
Viola has also designed horseshoe crab costumes. The “crabs” will explain the importance of these marine creatures which date back at least 350 million years – long before the age of dinosaurs – yet today horseshoe crabs are very close to endangered. These remarkable crabs are a very important part of coastal ecologies. Their eggs are the major food source for northward-migrating shorebirds.
Horseshoe Crabs also contribute significantly to the biomedical industry because their unique, copper-based blue blood contains a substance called “Limulus Amebocyte Lysate”, or “LAL”. This compound coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins and is used to test the sterility of medical equipment and virtually all injectable drugs. Anyone who has had an injection, vaccination, or surgery has benefitted from horseshoe crabs! Research on the compound eyes of horseshoe crabs has led to a better understanding of human vision.
Travelers along the Enchanted Forest trails also will discover how bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other creatures pollinate – and how critical this process is to our lives
Without pollinators, we would not have flowers or hundreds of crops including oranges, cabbages, peppers, tomatoes, melons, apples, berries and avocados. Yet, the disappearance of meadows across the country and world, along with the use of herbacides and insecticides are endangering pollinator populations, said Austin. The good news is that every person, every family, every household can help protect and restore pollinators in their gardens and lawns.
Austin said, “The creative magic of this delightful program, The Enchanted Forest, will allow everyone to walk away knowing something they didn’t know or understand, leading them to see themselves as ‘Nature Heroes,’ the focus of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.”
Directions to Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary. Click here.