Coral Gables

‘Halloween Hoedown’ planned for historic Merrick House

Scarecrows, barbecue and line-dancing will all be part of the historic Merrick House’s “Halloween Hoedown” on Sunday afternoon.

The hoedown is a part of the free series, “Sundays on the Porch with George,” which debuted last year to showcase the Merrick House and Gardens.

History is an important facet of the programming for the Merrick House Governing Board, which hosts the series along with the city of Coral Gables. Events are designed to transport guests back to different chapters in Coral Gables’ history, and the colorful lives of the city’s founding family, the Merricks, often inspire the theme.

An arts festival, a garden party and a holiday party are just some of the happenings planned for this year. The historic house, which has been restored to its 1925 appearance, will help to tell the family’s history at each of the five events. Guests are encouraged to take a tour of the house, which will be offered for $5 ($3 for senior citizens and students, $1 for young visitors).

“So many people last year said, ‘I have driven by here for 20 years and I have never stopped,’” said Joanne Meagher, chairwoman of April’s “green” eco-friendly event. “We got to educate the community.”

Guests gather outside on the front lawn at the events to enjoy the activities, listen to music and nosh on snacks; many of them are neighbors and friends.

“People move to Coral Gables because of the sense of community, and that is what this event has brought out,” said Julie Petrella Arch, director of the Edible Community Gardens Project, which planted a garden at the home. “You get to see your neighbors and meet new people. It is part of the brilliance of why this works.”

Children and adults can learn about their community while having fun there, and this weekend’s “Halloween Hoedown” is no different. The harvest party will feature pumpkin-carving demonstrations, a children’s costume parade and raffles.

The Coral Gables Fire Department has been invited to bring its fire engine for a safety demonstration.

“It is going to be very interactive with the kids,” said Ana Lam, event chairwoman.

The Halloween celebration will also give the firefighters a chance to showcase their other talents. They will cook up their famous barbecue prepared by Joe Fantigrassi, a Gables firefighter and award-winning chef at Swine in Coral Gables.

Another firefighter, Joe Torres, is a DJ and will be at the turntables, playing music throughout the afternoon.

“The firefighters are going to be doing a lot of this festival,” Lam said.

Local businesses have been invited to create scarecrows that will be displayed on the yard, and guests will be able to vote for their favorites.

Guests are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes or their “dancing duds” for line-dancing.

“I think it is going to be a great way to kick off the series,” said Susan Rodriguez, chairwoman of November’s garden party event.

If you go

What: Merrick House’s ‘Halloween Hoedown’

Where: Merrick House, 907 Coral Way, Coral Gables

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Free. Merrick House tours are offered for $5 ($3 for students, senior citizens and groups, $1 for children 6 to 12, free for younger children).