NEW: Wellington expects more than 8,000 for this year’s Fall Fest

Fall Fest, Wellington’s signature Halloween event, is growing again this year, with more than 8,000 people expected to pack Village Park off Pierson Road on Saturday.

To accommodate more spooky activities, the village has extended the event’s hours. Where Fall Fest used to begin later in the evening, this year it will be from 3 to 10 p.m. to allow families with younger children to enjoy the activities and still make it home for bedtime, said Michelle Garvey, the village’s community programs manager.

“Each year we seem to grow a little bit bigger,” Garvey said.

Garvey said Wellington’s staff has taken suggestions from residents about past Fall Fests and used that feedback to help make this year’s event better. Residents have said they felt too cramped, with too many people in Village Park at once. So this year, Fall Fest is spread out across more space and not just confined to an area toward the front of the complex.

“We just want this to be an enjoyable, family fun event,” Garvey said.

The goal, Garvey said, is to offer something for residents of all ages. Thus the addition of teen- and adult-friendly laser tag to this year’s activities. “They’re a little too big for bounce houses,” she said.

Fall Fest’s popular Haunted Hallways return this year, opening at 5 p.m. for those looking for a little more fright in their Saturday night.

“That is probably our most popular event,” Garvey said. With zombies, vampires and ghosts popping out at guests, the Haunted Hallways aren’t recommended for children under age 10, and children must be 12 or older to walk through without an adult.

Those who want to put on their Halloween best can sign up for costume contests in a variety of age categories, with contests at 4 and 7 p.m. There also is a pie-eating contest at 8 p.m.

If pie isn’t your thing, 15 food trucks will offer a variety of eats, including chicken wings, hot dogs, tacos, ice cream, and chicken and waffles.

For younger children, Fall Fest will have face painting and a petting zoo from 3 to 9 p.m. and pony rides from 3 to 6 p.m. Returning this year is a Fun Zone filled with inflatable activities, including bounce houses, a maze and a giant slide.

Also returning this year are shuttles to ferry residents from 2:30 to 10 p.m. between Village Park and the Palm Tran bus stop by the Nordstrom at the Mall at Wellington Green. With on-site parking limited, Garvey suggested people take advantage of the free shuttle.

It’s free to attend Fall Fest, but wristbands must be purchased before participating in any activities. Discounted wristbands are available through Friday at Village Park or the Wellington Community Center for $7 for ages 3 to 17 and $5 for ages 18 and up. Children under age 2 are free. On the day of the event, the price of children’s wristbands goes up to $10.

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