Scary Fun: The annual Halloween Warm-up is back for year 35

Published 7:15 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

A sure sign of autumn in Austin is a two-night event where visitors to the Jay. C. Hormel Nature Center can enjoy both the outdoors and learning about the nature around them.

The annual Halloween Warm-up, taking place on Oct. 12 and 13, is entering its 35th year and although its skits about the wider world around us are entertaining and skillfully done, there is also a partnership that has lasted all these years.

The nature center hosts skits are done by Austin’s own Matchbox Children’s Theatre.

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“It’s been a collaboration since day one,” said co-organizer Janet Anderson.

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When former director Vince Shay came to Austin so many years ago, he brought the idea of the Warm-up with him. And with that came the partnership with MCT.

“It’s an enchanting two nights,” Anderson said. “You never know what’s going to show up at the next stop.”

The running of the Halloween Warm-up hasn’t changed much over the years. At various stops throughout the center, skits are organized.

And as each group approaches them, the actors, ranging in age from MCT launch into their routines, which they do 13 times a night starting at 6:50 p.m. and ending with the last hike at 9:10 p.m.

However, from time to time new things are added like this year, which will see the Nature Center Puppet Players performing for the first time.

The idea of nature center intern Will Bjorndal, the players will set up at the Sugar Shack where they will produce their show.

“It’s a new skit this year,” Bjorndal said. “A different kind of puppetry for a new kind of storytelling.”

Bjorndal feels the puppets play well for the age range of 4-12 the Warm-up is geared for.

“Kids love puppets,” he said. “Almost all people like puppets. It’s like watching cartoons in real life.”

Another addition this year will take place during the first hike each night. Carts, owned by the nature center, will be made available for those who might otherwise struggle to walk the paths including the handicappd and elderly – basically anybody who struggles to get around.

The first group of walkers reach the first skit, back-lit by an emblazened horizon as the sun sets, during a past presentation of the Jay C.Hormel Nature Center’s Halloween Warm-up.

“Why not include people that would like to be part of their family outing,” Anderson said.

Each year about 800 tickets are made available for the two nights and each year the tickets sell out. Available at Superfresh Produce, Bakery and Garden Center, tickets cost $8 a person and includes apple cider and a cookie at the end of each hike for those with tickets.

Anderson suggests people get their tickets early.

“If there are still tickets we will still sell them at the gate,” Anderson said. “We certainly encourage people to buy in advance.”

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