Lake Forest’s Heritage Hill Historical Park gets into the Fall-O-Ween spirit

The 1890 El Toro Grammar School decorated for Fall-O-Ween.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

Lake Forest’s Heritage Hill Historical Park has hosted Halloween events since the early 2000s. This year the event returns, revamped as Fall-O-Ween.

Park visitors can tour the decorated historical grounds during special hours, take pictures at a variety of fall and Halloween-themed photo opportunities, explore the hay maze and participate in a scavenger hunt for treats at this free event. Costumes are encouraged and pets are also welcome, as long as they are on leashes 6 feet or shorter.

In previous years, the park hosted a decidedly spookier event, Haunt at Heritage Hill. This year the event has transitioned to a more family friendly event.

“OC Parks has reimagined this annual fall event into something new meant for the whole family to enjoy and as a way to highlight one of our beautiful historic sites,” said David Place, curator. “Fall-O-Ween takes place over two weekends, which also allows us to reach a wider audience across Orange County.”

The event kicks off Friday and runs until Sunday. The event returns the following weekend, Friday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Oct. 24.

One of the various photo opps available during Fall-O-Ween.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

Heritage Hill Historical Park first opened in 1982, as Orange County’s first historical park.

“Heritage Hill Historical Park’s 4.1 acres include four fully restored and furnished historic buildings spanning the early days of the Saddleback Valley from the 1800s to the citrus farming days of the early 20th century,” said Place.

The park’s landscaping stays true to the historic nature of the buildings too.

On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 11 a.m., guided tours through the buildings are provided for individuals and groups of seven or fewer.

“Volunteer docents meet visitors at the front porch of the Serrano Adobe and tour each building,” said Place, “The tours offer an interpretation of Saddleback-area history through the artifacts, events and people associated with each building.”

The park’s origins began with the Serrano Adobe, when Don Jose Serrano acquired the land through grants by the Mexican government in 1841 and 1846. In 1863, the Serrano family built the adobe on the land, then known as Rancho Cañada de los Aliso, where it remains to this day.

In 1932, the Serrano Adobe was granted the status of State Historical Landmark No. 199. From 1958 to 1969, the adobe was privately owned by Mr. and Mrs. V.P. Bake, who used it mostly as a vacation home and a meeting place for the Aliso Water Co.

In addition to the historical tours, Place said the park also offers an array of interpretive programs and other amenities.

“Limited school tour programs are offered to third- and fourth-grade classes,” said Place. “The Living History program enables students to experience a typical school day around the turn-of-the-century. The hands-on tour includes an activity at each historic building.”

Other annual celebrations hosted at Heritage Hill include Rancho Days Fiesta, Victorian Christmas, Candlelight tour and autumn Harvest Festival.

The 1890 El Toro Grammar School decorated for Fall-O-Ween.
(Courtesy of OC Parks)

Some Orange County landmarks have stories of hauntings attached to them and while Place agrees the park has a story to tell, you can only expect treats and no tricks at Heritage Hill.

“These old historic buildings have a lot to tell us about life in the Saddleback Valley back in the 1800s,” said Place. “However, nothing of a spooky nature has ever been corroborated here at Heritage Hill Historical Park.”

Heritage Hill Historical Park is located at 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest. (949) 923-2230.
Fall-O-Ween takes place Oct. 15 through 17 and Oct. 22 through 24, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. It is suitable for all ages.

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