Halloween is a time of frights and confections, a time when things long passed return to the present, and here in Orange County, preparations are already underway to bring the past to life once more.

For its second year, the Heritage Museum of Orange County will be hosting its Ghost Gathering, a one-night event celebrating the Halloween season and the rich history of the Santa Ana wetlands. The event will take place on the 12 acres of the museum and will feature organic food, a German beer garden, historical re-enactors and live music by Krazy Kirk & The Hillbillies and the acapella group The Spittoons.

The museum has partnered on this event with Joel Robinson and his organization, Naturalists For You, a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to preserving historical knowledge and nature. “It was something that we came up with on a whim,” explains Jamie Hiber, a director at the Heritage Museum. “Last year, we planned and put it together in just two weeks. This year, we’ve taken over a year to plan to make sure that this event is even bigger and better.”

Courtesy of Heritage Museum of Orange County

The guiding thoughts behind this year’s Gathering were authenticity, sustainability and locally available. “For food, we wanted something sustainable and non-wasteful,” explains Robinson. “We don’t want food in plastic wrappers that are going to get discarded all over the grounds.” Local breweries are being tapped to provide the spookily-themed concoctions for the event’s beer garden, while the Orange County Blacksmith Guild will make an appearance with an occult-themed blacksmiths shop.

As well as promoting local groups and giving back to the community, the Ghost Gathering also allows the historians of the Heritage Museum to divulge some of the area’s lesser-known history. “We’ve always wanted to do an after-dark tour divulging the not-so-G-rated history in the museum,” says Hiber. If intrigued, guests can participate in a paranormal investigation of one of the museum’s historical houses, or can choose to wander the two acres of wetlands known as Gospel Swamp.

For those in Orange County looking for some family-friendly Halloween fun, or for those history buffs looking to indulge in some of the pleasures of yesteryear, the Heritage Museum’s Ghost Gathering promises an enchanting evening of historical delight.

The Ghost Gathering takes place Sunday, Oct. 8, from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

 

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