Nocturnal nature frightens children, parents

Emily J. Sullivan
Staff Writer

The popular two-night event at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” made its 2019 return on Oct. 11, where families were able to immerse themselves in nature of the night.

Parents and children arrived with flashlights and hiking tennis ready to visit and learn about crawly creatures and other animals that make regular Halloween appearances like snakes, owls from Wild Wings, tarantulas, wolves, frogs, toads and more. 

The annual event brought out a heavy crowd of precious kiddos with head lamps attached to their noggins ready for action.

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, located on the north side of Foothill Boulevard in Claremont, is typically open until 5 p.m.

However, they make an exception for this annual nighttime event where the trails are meant to be dark and spooky, at times only lit by the occasional lantern or the flash of a passerby’s guiding light. 

Upon arrival, guests check in and receive a passport that doubles as a map, where each stop along the way features a different attraction.

First, there were real life wolves that sat with their care-givers, unfenced for guests to visit and experience. 

Although the wolves looked terrified by all the children that ogled at them, they seemed exceptionally well cared for.

The larger wolf was all white. He had an accident as a cub that landed him at the vet where he was sadly mistreated. 

Fortunately, his caretakers rescued him and have cared for him ever since. 

The next stop was focused on worms and grubs. Kids were allowed to pick them up and get their hands dirty digging around in the soil to find various types of worms.

They offered hand-sanitizer at most stations, including the frog and toad stations where visitors met the tiniest little frogs that made the noisiest croaks.

The University of La Verne’s own Associate Professor of Biology David Bickford educated guests about the different types of frogs and toads.

Next up on the path was the stop where owls were perched with eyes wide open, looking from side to side, moving their necks nearly all the way around as children came from all angles to admire the nocturnal creatures.

There were three different types of owls that were all very animated and even posed for photos with the kids that had the guts to stand close by. 

As guests made their way further along the trail, the night grew darker and colder, some kids begged their parents to turn around and make their way back, clearly spooked by the dark trail and forest-like setting.

Along the path were large taxidermy bears, bobcats and possums with their mouths open bearing sharp teeth and threatening expressions. 

In addition to the various stations where parents and children could meet and greet with the differing animals and insects, there was a comedy show where children learned about tarantulas and the anatomy of insects.

At the show, they played a creepy crawly version of “Simon Says,” even acting out scenarios featuring sweet lady bugs and hissing spiders. 

The event also brought in a food truck that served burgers and hotdogs to hungry guests before and after their hikes. 

The event was well organized, the kids were busy with crafts, education and novelty attractions, and the parents seemed to enjoy the festivities as well. Overall, the event was a hit.

It is no wonder the annual “Things That Go Bump In The Night” event at the botanic garden is known to sell-out so quickly each year. 

Emily J. Sullivan can be reached at

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