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McMaken: Wheaton Park District offers family fall fun

Fall is a great time of year in Wheaton. The leaves are turning a golden hue, the jack-o-lanterns are beginning to appear on front stoops and the air is crisper and more friendly for campfires and hot chocolate. For families looking for fun this October, the Wheaton Park District is offering a number of exciting events to celebrate the autumn season with more fun than fright.

First of all, throughout the month of October, Cosley Zoo’s front lawn will be bursting with the bounty of the season: pumpkins, gourds, straw bales, apples and other fall produce. Guests can sip on apple cider while they choose which pumpkin to transform into a grinning jack-o-lantern. Entrance to Pumpkin Fest is included in zoo admission cost. Proceeds benefit the continued development of the zoo.

In addition to the fun that happens at Pumpkin Fest all month, Cosley Zoo is hosting Spooktacular on Oct. 25 (two time options: 5:30-7 p.m. or 7-8:30 p.m.), an evening sure to delight even the youngest guests. Participants are encouraged to come in costume and can take part in a variety of activities: making crafts, walking around a spooky pond path or a “not-so-scary” straw maze and pumpkin carving. Cosley Zoo staff will also be in costume as they help kids with their activities and introduce them to live animals.

Each Saturday in October will feature a special Pumpkin Fest event:

•  On Oct. 5, Cosley hosted a Bat Scavenger Hunt.

• On Oct. 12, guests will receive zoo treats and milk by 1871 Dairy.

• Oct. 19 will be Cosley’s Mascot Day, where Casper the Friendly Ghost will make an appearance (first 200 kids receive a Casper mask), along with Bentley the Bobcat and Ozzie from the Kane County Cougars.

• Oct. 26 will be Sponsor Boonanza, featuring special giveaways and prizes from Community Bank, Healthsource and Dr. David Allen.

For more Halloween fun, families can check out Halloween Happening from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at Rice Pool and the Wheaton Park District Community Center. Children can enjoy a variety of activities such as games with prizes, a bounce house, face painting, a costume pageant with prizes, “Trunk or Treat” and crafts. Then, they can travel Trick or Treat Trail around the Rice Pool bath house to gather Halloween treats. Some of the activities and food require a small fee.

The month of October is sure to be filled with autumnal excitement all over Wheaton. For more information about the events at Cosley Zoo, visit Please pre-register for Spooktacular by Oct. 21. For more information about Halloween Happening, visit or call the Community Center at 630-690-4880.

Bonnie McMaken is the marketing and events assistant for the Wheaton Park District

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