Four-year-old John Every had so much fun at last year’s Arcadia Lake Storybook Forest that he’s been counting down the days ever since.

“He woke me up at 10 ’til six this morning, saying, ‘Mom, get up! It’s Storybook Forest day!” said his mother, Sabrina Every.

John and friend Brandt Jenkins were among the first arrivals at Thursday’s opening event. Dressed as Thomas the Tank Engine and as a cowboy, they eagerly awaited the opening of the gates.

The annual non-scary family event features scenes from favorite children’s stories, created by Arcadia Lake Maintenance Supervisor Leon Mixer and other staff members.

Mixer said volunteers have been busy setting up the Storybook Forest scenes for the past couple of weeks, with some surprises this year.

“Every year we try to come up with something a little bit new,” he said.

Children and their families lined up to walk a tree-lined trail where they collected treats and visited scenes from the “Three Little Pigs,” the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and others.

Youngsters also enjoyed stories and poems read aloud, a hay ride and the chance to toast marshmallows and hot dogs over a campfire.

The crisp autumn evening was perfect for youngsters exploring the individual scenes.

“I think we’ve been blessed again this year,” Mixer said. “They’ve taken the rain out of the forecast for the week.”

That’s a good thing for lake personnel as Oklahoma’s rainiest year on record comes to an end. Although the lake was closed for the early part of the summer due to flood conditions, Mixer said recent visitors have helped make up for the economic loss, and profits from Storybook Forest will support the lake budget.

“That helps us out, especially after a year like this year,” he said.

Storybook Forest is intended for children age 12 or younger.

“There are enough scary trails for older kids,” Mixer said. “Instead of scaring the younger minds, we wanted to create something that would make good memories for them.”



Storybook Forest is open from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each day through Halloween. Admission is $5 per child, with parents admitted free.

The event takes place at Spring Creek Park, 2.5 miles east of Interstate 35 on 15th Street. Children may wear costumes or warm, casual clothing.

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