Haunted house? More like magical journey: Kona Pacific’s annual event provides Halloween festivities for South Kona

  • Keiki pose in their costumes for Kona Pacific Public Charter School’s Halloween Journey in 2017. The theme for this year’s Halloween Journey is “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The event begins 4 p.m. tonight. (Kona Pacific Public Charter School/Courtesy Photo)

  • Pumpkins carved by Kona Pacific Public Charter School are used as decoration and lighting for the school's annual Halloween Journey.
  • Kona Pacific Public Charter School students pose with the pumpkins they carved Friday. The pumpkins will light the way for the annual Halloween Journey.

KEALAKEKUA — Students of Kona Pacific Public Charter School left school Friday with the only change to the campus being the lineup of pumpkins they spent the morning carving.

When they return tonight, they will find the school transformed into the fictional world of Narnia.

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It’s all just part of the magic of Kona Pacific’s annual Halloween Journey.

“I love the idea that we’re creating this magical world that only exists for one day,” pedagogical director Greg Learned said. “I love the idea that it’s pop-up art and you get this experience, and then the next day it’s all gone and it’s just the memory.”

The 19th annual Halloween Journey is from 4-9 p.m. today at Kona Pacific’s Kealakekua campus. Students, parents, and the community are all invited to take part in games, crafts, food and the journey itself for $15 per person.

This year’s theme is “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which is the first time the classic children’s series has been recreated for the event.

“We try to do a different theme every year and we try to bring in things that are rooted in literature in a way,” Learned said. “Our themes have gone from everywhere from Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ to ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’ where we went back to the 1800s and a steampunk theme. We’re always trying to draw from children’s literature.”

The journey has attendees walking along a path through the woods behind the school to see seven scenes from “The Chronicles of Narnia” reenacted by the volunteer cast of parents, teachers and students of Kona Pacific. Lighting the way will be the jack-o-lanterns made by the students of the school.

“Our first journey starts at 4:45 p.m., but honestly, it’s when the sun goes down that you really feel the magic,” said Lulie Cottle, a substitute teacher who will be playing the role of the White Witch.

Cottle said more than 700 tickets have been sold for the Halloween Journey. Years prior, Kona Pacific offered closer to 500 tickets for the event, but its popularity has increased since the inaugural journey.

“We created this as an event to gather our community and give an alternative to going out and just getting a bunch of candy and having gory costumes,” Learned said. “We tried to create something that was a little more magical and a little better for younger children.”

Learned said the event is beneficial to the students by fostering a sense of community within the school and allowing students to flex their creative muscles.

“Everyone is gathered around carving pumpkins together, and the fun of the event is the creativity that they get to express with carving their pumpkins and being involved in the creation of this event,” Learned said.

The school recommends wearing comfortable, closed-toed shoes for the journey, which will take place on the rocky and slippery terrain of South Kona. Parking will be available at the old Kealakekua courthouse, Keakealani Building, with a shuttle service to the school.

Learned said this year’s Halloween Journey will live up to the expectations set by the previous years.

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“It’s one-of-a-kind every time, so you can only experience it once,” Learned said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our school community to shine and show some of the great things that Kona Pacific is all about.”

Tickets still available for Halloween Journey can be purchased by calling 322-4900.

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