By Jodi Goodwin
An old-fashioned, family-fun, Halloween carnival at my Ranch: what could be easier to pull off, right? Ten years ago, Boo at the Ranch was born out of the frustrations of long lines for crappy candy at the “Boo at the Zoo” festival. Like most moms, I wanted my children to enjoy all such festivities, so I loaded up the stroller three years in a row until I finally had a enough of the crowds, the lines, and the crying.
I am very fortunate to live on 10 acres about 20 miles north of Harlingen, Texas. It is a wide-open space just perfect for children to run free and never have to worry about a car passing by. Because I am an Amiga, I thought, "I can create a fun party for everyone to enjoy and not worry about their children being out in the streets trick-or-treating." The first year was several months in the planning….down to the custom “Boo at the Ranch” pencils as prizes (don’t judge, Pinterest wasn’t even born when Boo was first conceptualized!) My oldest child was 5, my middle child was 10 months, and my baby was not even a thought. We bobbed for apples (that was pre-H1N1….we don’t offer bobbing for apples anymore), had hay rides, pony rides (yes, I have horses), duck pond, sack races, costume contest, piñatas, cakewalk (by far the biggest hit at Boo) and a SAFE place for kids to run free!
The kids LOVED Boo…and I think the parents loved Boo even more than the kiddos because no parent had to be watching out for where their child was playing. Boo grew year after year. I became a pro (yes PRO) at Boo at the Ranch planning, set-up and take-down. Decorations are set out the night before Boo and taken down the night of Boo. I use the same contractor for all the party services (DJ, lights, tables, chairs, bounce house, rides, etc) so they already know each year to be on the lookout for the date for Boo at the Ranch. Planning became easy when I made it a one-stop-shop.
Starting around September, right when the kids get back to school, the question of whether we will be having Boo at the Ranch starts floating. What I thought would be a one-time event to make up for the negative experience at the Zoo has turned into a family tradition that my children and all their friends look forward to each year. Happy 10th Anniversary to Boo at the Ranch!