Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. The name of the only campsite in Luray, Virginia, which had space for us last weekend suggested that it was pretty kid-centric. Still, we were totally unprepared for what we faced when we got there and were given an activity list for the Halloween Witches Brew weekend, which kicked off with a vampire scavenger hunt and candy bar bingo on Friday and culminated with trick or treat and site and cabin judging on Saturday night.
Site judging? Sure enough, the guy camping in a large fifth wheel right across from our site in the campground was setting out a row of inflatable tombstones when we got there. We had nothing. At first, we thought that having a real, live grey-but-could-pass-as-black-in-the-dark cat might improve our Halloween credentials, but by nightfall, our neighbor's site boasted a light show, a scary outdoor soundtrack, dry ice effects, the works. We panicked and rushed out to buy a couple of pumpkins and five big sacks of candy for the trick or treaters.
It wasn't enough. Ten minutes after the trick or treating started, Shane had been approached by about 100 little people, including three-year-old twin ninjas, Buzz Lightyear, some unicorns and an array of dinosaurs, and our stash of chocolate bars disappeared. It's worth watching the video below to the end to check out an excellent dog costume.
The next morning, we discovered that our neighbor with the inflatable tombstones had won second prize in the site-judging contest. We've no idea what the winner had to do to beat a light show and dry ice extravaganza because they'd left by the time we went to investigate. Our neighbor was Kevin Cubbage, and although he lived near Luray, he said it was a remote spot. As a result, he'd been coming to Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park the same weekend every year for four years to "have an opportunity to decorate for Halloween, hand out candy and do the whole thing". He also said it was a great place for children who also lived in remote areas to go trick or treating in a secure environment with no traffic.
Such is the popularity of this that the campground has hosted Halloween events for the last three weekends. Who knew that Halloween lasted for most of October? We do now, and at least we left with two pumpkins, which we can whip out again tomorrow.
Kathryn Tully and Shane Sesta are a married couple, one American and one Brit, who are spending a year traveling across America and writing about their discoveries. Sonny is their rescue cat and fried chicken aficionado.