A spooky display sits atop a hearse during last year's Halloween festivities in Bucoda.

The tiny south Thurston County town of Bucoda will once again shift to its spooky, seasonal alter ego “Boo-coda” as it prepares for a month of celebrations and attractions timed with the arrival of Halloween. 

The name of the town is officially changed for the entire month of October via a proclamation by the town council. 


The Tenino band moces through the 2019 parade in Bucoda.

Among the highlights of the month-long celebration are pine box casket races, a Zombie Parade, a Monster Mash Dance, Family Fun and Fright Day, a vendor fair, coloring contests, a jack-o-lantern contest and trick or treat every night the entire month at Joe’s Place, the town’s 121-year-old tavern and eatery. 

There’s also a haunted house. 

“The town hosts the Scary Nights Haunted House in the 1939 gymnasium owned by the town,” according to the press release. “The gym is believed to be haunted itself with paranormal activity.”

Also on hand will be the town-owned hearse, aptly named “Hearsela.”


Pine box derby racers compete during the 2018 Boo-coda event.

New for 2019 is the addition of the Zombie Parade and Race and the Ghost Hunt of several reported haunted places in Bucoda, along with VIP passes to the Scary Nights Haunted House, hosted by Pretty Gritty Tours.

“We put on the Haunted House and the Boo-Coda Spook-Tacular to raise awareness of Bucoda, as we are off the beaten path and generate funding to support community projects,” said Bucoda Mayor Alan Carr. “We hope to become one of the best Halloween themed towns in the Pacific Northwest and are excited to have unique activities that you don’t see at other festivals including Casket Races and Hearse Procession and Viewing.” 


Below is a roundup of some of the events scheduled for October. For more information and a schedule of events visit Most activities will take place in downtown Bucoda. 


Bucoda Scary-Nights Haunted House: Sept. 27, 28; Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 30, 31 and Nov. 1, from 7 to 11p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, from 7 to 10 p.m. Halloween week. It will be located in the Bucoda Haunted Gym, 403 N. Nenant St., Bucoda. The cost is $12 for general admission and $20 for a VIP ticket.


Trick or Treat Every Night: Oct. 1-31, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Joe’s Place, 118 S. Main St., Bucoda.


Pine Box Derby Casket and Zombie Parade and Races: Presented by Eastside Big Tom, these events will be held Saturday, Oct. 5. The Parade of Caskets Race will include teams of businesses, non-profits, schools and government agencies. Friends and families are invited to compete against each other. The races take place on Main Street in downtown Bucoda. The race course is 300 feet long. Casket Race teams must participate in the Pine Box Derby Casket and Zombie Parade. An announcer will read about each casket race team and zombie group. After the parade, casket race teams and zombie race participants will proceed onto pit row and prepare for the Casket and Zombie Races. 


Hearses line the streets of Bucoda during the 2018 "Bo-coda Spook-Tacular."


Casket Races: Teams consist of four pallbearers and one “corpse.” Each team is guaranteed to participate in at least two races. Zombies will compete in a foot race that takes place on the same course as the caskets and is 300 feet long (100-yard dash). Zombie racers will race by the following age groups: under 8, 9 to 13, 14 to 18 and 19 and older. The public is invited to participate in the casket and zombie Races. If a team doesn’t have a casket, the town will provide one to race with. The cost is $25 for a casket race team entry fee. It’s free to participate in the Zombie Parade and Race. To participate, complete the application online at


A coffin hangs from a hearse at last year's Halloween-themed festivities last year.


Hearse Procession and Viewing: This will take place Saturday, Oct. 12. Staging will begin at 10 a.m. with staging. The procession, similar to a parade, will begin at 11:30 a.m. “If the hearse procession continues to grow, we are going to need a bigger town. We anticipate more than 30 hearses in 2019,” said Town Council Member Steve “Digger” Purcell, who wears a tuxedo, drives the town’s hearse and calls himself the friendly undertaker.


Family Fun and Fright Day: This will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, There will be kids and adult categories for pumpkin decorating and carving, a coloring contest and a resource fair with booths providing fun activities.


The pine box derby casket races are one of the more popular events during Boo-coda's one-month run.


Monster Mash Dance: On Oct. 19, ages 1 to 12 will dance 6 to 7:30 p.m. and ages 13 to 17 will hit the floor from 7 to 9 p.m.. The dance is held in the Bucoda Community Center’s second-floor ballroom, which is located at 101B East Seventh St. in Bucoda.


Family-Friendly Haunted House: Bring the whole family from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26. The haunted house will be opened on the first floor of the Bucoda Community Center.


Thrill the World-Bucoda Thriller Dance: The big dance will be held from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The town will attempt setting a world record for the number of people dancing to the song “Thriller.”


Vendor Fair: The vendor fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

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