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Carnival project brings back memories of Halloweens past

SPOOKY -- Tracy Zapf's senior project includes a haunted tunnel, face painting and a cake walk

When it came time to decide what shape her senior project would take, Tracy Zapf's decision-making tree leaned toward fall.

'I knew that by spring, I'd be busy with track and applying for scholarships,' said the Forest Grove High School senior. 'I wanted to get it out of the way so I wouldn't have to worry about it.'

Not only that, but Zapf, 18, was intent on resurrecting a piece of her childhood to fulfill her school's requirement for a community-service project prior to graduation.

She had fond memories of attending the annual Halloween Carnival at her church when she was growing up, bobbing for apples and trying for prizes in the cake walk.

'I loved it, but somehow it dissolved away,' Zapf said. 'I wanted to bring it back.'

It's been about five years since the Forest Grove United Church of Christ hosted an autumn carnival for kids. Zapf's event, which she planned herself, is set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the church, 2032 College Way.

It promises to be a hauntingly good time for children ages 3-10 - and the young-at-heart.

There'll be a haunted tunnel, complete with a strobe light, hanging string and mystery goo to crawl through. Zapf used large boxes, donated by VanDyke Appliances, to build the tunnel in the church's fellowship room.

Kids can win prizes in the fishing game and bean-bag toss and have their faces painted.

Carnival-goers can also mimic musical chairs in Zapf's version of the cake walk, stepping around a circle of homemade cakes until the music stops and they're standing on a number.

'I need to refresh myself on the rules before the carnival,' Zapf admitted.

A member of the UCC youth group, Zapf has enlisted the help of teenage peers to bake and decorate 20 cakes for the activity. Her mentor, Lori Epler, has been a big help in other phases of the project.

To draw as many children as possible, Zapf has issued an invitation to the entire community. She's hard-pressed to estimate attendance numbers.

Zapf hopes that some of the kids trick-or-treating downtown businesses that evening will drop by the carnival.

'If we get five kids, I'll be happy, and if we get 100 I'll be happy,' she said.

To help manage the activity areas, Zapf has recruited 15 teenage volunteers and has a few folks standing by in case there's a flood of little ghosts and goblins.

The games, at 10 cents each, won't bring in a large windfall of cash. Zapf hopes she'll raise enough money to cover her costs, and if there's something left over, she plans to donate it to the UCC's youth mission trip.

Hot dogs, chips and soft drinks will also be for sale in case people get hungry.

'One thing I still need to do is apply for a temporary restaurant license through the county because we're serving food,' Zapf said. 'That's next on my list.'

So far, Zapf hasn't run into any major glitches planning her project, considered to be 'a capstone experience' for seniors at FGHS.

'It used to be that you could do practically anything for your project,' said Zapf, who grew up in Forest Grove. 'But this year they're making us focus more on a career path or personal plans for the future.'

In Zapf's case, she's thinking seriously about becoming an event coordinator.

As president of the high school's Associated Student Body, Zapf has had plenty of experience putting events together already. Leadership classes have put on benefit fundraisers, canned-food drives, assemblies.

The students have been very busy planning Homecoming activities in recent weeks. Zapf was a member of the 2006 Homecoming Court.

Next fall she plans to attend the University of Oregon. She's applied to the school's honors college and is waiting for a response.

By the end of next week, she'll nearly have her senior project requirements wrapped up. All that's left are a summary paper, a display board and a speech.

'I have to say why I chose my project and what I learned,' Zapf said. 'I think doing this project has helped me prepare for my future.'

A GHOST OF A GOOD TIME

WHAT: Halloween carnival, with games, prizes, food and fun for children ages 3-10 and their parents or guardians

WHERE: Forest Grove United Church of Christ, 2038 College Way

WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 31, 5-7 p.m.

COST: Free admission, but games are 10 cents each

INFO: Call Tracy Zapf at 503-357-0755