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Magical island hike Friday

Thunder Bay River Center is hosting the Magic in Our Midst guided hike on Island Park from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, the first-ever evening event planned at Island Park.

Walkers will follow a lighted trail, as seven stuffed animals come alive with pre-recorded voices that “talk” with children and adults. Walkers in this Magic in Our Midst adventure will be welcomed by the Spirit of the Island (Dave Usher) and led by “sprites.”

The animals will be voiced by actors from Thunder Bay Theatre and broadcast to blue tooth speakers via cell phones handled by seven high school volunteers. Other adults will serve as group guides, for groups of six.

There will be six time slots. Tickets are time-stamped for a group of up to six people. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Each group (spaced 10 minutes apart) will be led on the magic trail by a guide to discover the Island Spirit and visit some of the animal friends who live there.

Participants will be greeted by the Spirit of the Island, Sah-gon-ah-kat-toh. All children 16 and younger will receive a small flashlight to be used during the program. Each participant will receive a souvenir Animal Friends booklet.

After walking the trail (about 30-45 minutes), groups are invited to the tent for a warm up of hot chocolate and cookies.

At the end of the magic walk, visitors will be treated to hot chocolate, compliments of Top O’Michigan, and cookies donated by both the River Center and Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary boards. Terri Beebe of McDonald’s donated cups for the hot chocolate. Thrivents Financial is also a sponsor.

Under the tent, Michelle Sobek and Kathy Crandell will have some live animals ­– fox, skunk, possum ­– that kids can pet and/or have their photos taken with. The skunk has had its sprayer removed.

The event is free, but a ticket is required. Tickets are available at Muddy Paws on a first-come first-served basis at 217 W. Chisholm St. Tickets are limited to 108 people.

The covered bridge to Island Park will be closed to all non-ticket holders from 4 until 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

If the event is successful, it will be held annually.