311 Help Desk
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City of harrisburg logo

CONTACT: Matt Maisel
Director of Communications, City of Harrisburg
(717) 255-7295
[email protected]

October 4, 2023

HARRISBURG – Free family friendly events are taking place throughout the fall season in Harrisburg, thanks to the city’s Parks & Recreation department.

Starting this Saturday, October 7, join families from throughout Harrisburg at Italian Lake and have a “reel” good time for the annual Family Fishing Day. Beginning at 10 a.m., this annual event offers families a rare chance to fish in an urban setting. For many who attend, this is their first, or perhaps only opportunity during the year, to learn how to fish.

“We want to offer everyone in the city the same opportunities as anyone else,” said Sasha Ross, Director of Parks and Recreation. “We are grateful to be able to partner with so many wonderful organizations to bring our residents this exciting and educational family-based event.”

The City of Harrisburg teams up with the Civic Club of Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to host Family Fishing Day. Pre-registration is suggested, by visiting https://www.register-ed.com/events/register/202401. Fishing licenses are not required. Bringing your own fishing equipment is encouraged, as poles and bait will be available on a limited first-come, first-served basis.

This is the only time of the year fishing is permitted at Italian Lake.

Later in October, the Bash at the Brownstone Halloween party returns for its second year, following an extremely successful inaugural stint. This year’s “Bash”, presented by UPMC and True Value, will take place on Wednesday, October 25, from 6-9 p.m. outside the Reservoir Park Brownstone Building.

Like last year, this free event will return its popular costume contest for kids up to 15 years old, with three age categories: 0-5 years old, 6-11 years old, and 12-15 years old. There will also be face painting, arts & crafts, a reptile petting zoo, plenty of food, and what would a Halloween party be without the most important ingredient: candy!

“Giving kids a safe, family-friendly Halloween is one of the most important things we can do as a Parks and Recreation department,” Ross said. “Last year’s first-ever Bash went better than we could have possibly imagined, and it gives us the motivation to go above and beyond to make Year 2 even better.”

The City of Harrisburg’s official trick-or-treat night will return to Halloween night this year, Tuesday, October 31, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

“Halloween can be one of the most fun times of the year for families, but we also know it can be stressful for parents,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “By starting earlier, we hope kids can do most of their trick-or-treating with their parents and guardians while there is still daylight, and get home in time to get rest for school the next day. We also want parents to know our police and community service aides will be throughout the community all night making sure everyone is having a safe, fun time.”

In addition to the Halloween Bash at the Brownstone and trick-or-treat night, for the first time, Parks & Recreation will be hosting four Halloween-themed family movie nights on Fridays throughout October at the Reservoir Park Bandshell.

  • October 6: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
  • October 13: The Addams Family
  • October 20: Hocus Pocus
  • October 27: Coraline

All movies will begin at 7 p.m., with free refreshments available while supplies last.

Once Halloween ends, the focus shifts to the holiday season, and two of the city’s most popular annual events: The Harrisburg Holiday Parade and Santa’s Winter Wonderland. This year’s Holiday Parade will take place Saturday, November 18, with the parade stepping off from the Market Street Bridge at 10 a.m. In 2022, more than 100 groups participated in the biggest parade yet, featuring giant-sized floats, musical acts, marching bands, and of course, Santa!

Groups interested in participating in this year’s parade can email [email protected].

When Santa arrives on the scene, Harrisburg starts to turn into a Winter Wonderland. He and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance at the Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center on December 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Harrisburg’s Winter Wonderland event. In addition to Christmas activities, kids will have the chance to paint Hanukkah dreidels and make crafts for Kwanzaa. There will also be cookies, toys, and everyone will have the opportunity to take pictures with the Clauses!

Along with celebrating the holidays, Harrisburg Parks & Recreation is celebrating the city’s multi-cultural diversity. For the first time, the City is offering free conversational Spanish classes. These take place Wednesday mornings for six weeks, from October 4-November 8, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Reservoir Park Brownstone.

“Harrisburg is one of the fastest growing Hispanic centers in Pennsylvania. More than a quarter of the city is of Latin background,” said Melissa Mesones-Ortiz, City of Harrisburg Deputy Communications Manager and Multi-lingual Specialist who is teaching the classes. “We want to make our city more equitable and inclusive for everyone, and giving people a chance to learn basic Spanish is one way we can do that.”

The City of Harrisburg is also offering free African dance classes for all ages, every Thursday until October 26, at the Sunken Gardens in Riverfront Park. There are no classes Thursday, October 5.

Registration for both classes are required by visiting https://harrisburg.recdesk.com.