Sequoyah Park brings stories to the campfire

Madeline Anele | Daily Press

Eric Rigg drove the tractor during the hayride at Sequoyah State Park on Friday.

The crackle of the fire, little squeals of fright, and the stifled giggles of parents overseeing could be heard as spooky tales were read aloud at Sequoyah State Park on Friday.

The park hosted Scary Stories by the Bonfire, providing the appropriate atmosphere for a hair-raising evening.

The Sequoyah Park Partners, an organization of individuals who raise funds for events and facilities, partnered with the park's Three Forks Nature Center to host the first-ever event. It featured Gay Sanwick, a storyteller that read Halloween tales to families in attendance.

Sierra Coon, the recreation specialist for Sequoyah State Park, said the money raised from the event went to sponsor park programming and events, such as the kids' fishing derby, the park's fireworks show, deer hunts, and other activities.

Attendees arrived at Cowboy Camp, the site of the storytelling, by hayride. Families loved the added component of the hayride through the park.

"We are really diving in and exploring nature; my son is having so much fun," said Apollo Bradley, a father at the event.

Sanwick is a retired librarian from Jenks Public Schools and learned about the event because she's a frequent campers at Sequoyah. She explained that she approached the Nature Center a few years ago about volunteering to read to students whenever she got the chance.

"I was a librarian for 31 years," she said. "This is a way to keep doing what I love."

Sanwick worked with children ages 4-9 throughout her career, and felt Scary Stories by the Bonfire was a good opportunity to give back to the community.

After the spooky storytelling, the fire was used to golden marshmallows as families assembled to eat hot s'mores. The ghoulish backdrop of the state park's shadowy trees provided an eerie ambiance for the participants, which added to the storytelling.

"Events like this are a great way to get local areas such as our park known, and they allow families from the community to come out and make new memories with their children," said Coon.

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