The Last Stop Carnival
The Ocala community is no stranger to the tricks and treats Halloween season brings, but after about 40 years of one company putting on the haunted house for the city, a new ghoulish project with a philanthropic purpose has stepped into the limelight.
The Last Stop Carnival, a horror-filled experience consisting of theatrics, music and art, kicks off Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. and takes place at the Ocala Drive-In.
It will continue every weekend until Nov. 2.
Though the carnival will attempt to strike fear into those who dare walk the grounds, a softer message is behind the project.
Unlike other Halloween-themed projects in Ocala, The Last Stop Carnival will donate all of its proceeds to the Belleview Splash Park fund, Toys for Tots, Veterans Helping Veterans and Florida Kids Helping Kids.
Gerri Gerthe, a spokeswoman for Florida Kids Helping Kids and project manager for the Belleview Splash Park, said the way the community is coming together to put on the carnival is astounding.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I love that the community as a whole wants to see this happen. It’s great that everyone’s pulling together to make it work out.”
Gerthe said The Last Stop Carnival, which has already donated about $1,000 to the Belleview Splash Park, is going above and beyond for the organization and will host a kid-friendly carnival day on Oct.14 where 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the Splash Park.
“On that day, we’re getting the kids to run the games and operate the carnival, with parental supervision, of course,” she said. “The kids are excited to jump in and help. This is the first time we’ve done a carnival, so they don’t know what to expect yet, but they’re anxious to get in and see how much we can raise.”
While the carnival is debuting for the first time in Ocala, Jason Jacobowitz, the project’s creator from 4 Scene Productions, said he believes his project will draw a strong crowd.
“I wanted to go with a cerebral haunt, not so much a jump-out-and-scare-you horror, with visual illusions and high quality makeup artists,” he said. “I think because of the different approach we are taking and because of the charities, people will flock to us.”
Jacobowitz said the project is thriving because of community involvement and the many volunteers who have helped set up and who will work the carnival.
Fred Romeo, a 4 Scene Production representative working on the carnival, said the project has grown into a community-wide effort.
“With the charities benefitting from the carnival, the vendors supporting us and the amount of volunteers we have working on the project, this has become a community affair,” he said. “We have volunteers dressing up as creatures for the carnival, makeup artists who are helping create a scary, PG-13 environment, and the owners of the Ocala Drive-In hosting us.”
As far as Jacobowitz is concerned, the carnival will not only be a fun addition to Ocala’s haunted fall season, but also a successful way for the Ocala community to donate its time and money.
“It would have been a pretty scary endeavor to spearhead this project without all of the community’s support,” he said. “Seeing this happen is a dream come true.”