Fremont has the Haunted Hydro and Findlay has Fear Factory and Train of Terror, but Halloween enthusiasts can treat themselves to a scare without leaving town. The Tiffin University softball team is bringing back Harry's Hunted Trail for a second year along the nature trail next to the school's outdoor track on CR 26 (Miami Street).
The attraction is to run Friday and Saturday and Oct. 29-31.
Coach Jeff Nickerson, assistant coach De De Justice and members of the team have been working to set up a series of frightful scenes. They started by clearing logs and branches from the trail and bringing items out of storage. Justice said the players are excited about improving the project for 2010.
PHOTO BY SEAN HERRON
Juniors Megan Baird
(foreground) and Lauren Mazzuca clear debris.
"It was trial and error last year, but we're going to set it up a little different this year to have a more consistent flow of people," Justice said.
They have chosen an "asylum" theme for 2010. Justice said the women sought input from last year's patrons to see what features they liked best. Then the team brainstormed to improve on their initial effort.
Like last year, the women are working in small groups to take charge of various segments of the trail. Team member Lese Herbert helped to construct the first haunted trail and served as one of the costumed characters.
"Last year, I was in the first section, and I was the girl in the black dress screaming at people," Herbert said. "In my section, we had torn-apart baby dolls and Barbies, and there was a clown area last year. It's going to be a whole lot better this year."
Herbert said the props purchased last year will be re-used to avoid spending more dollars. The team is offering co-curricular credit for more volunteers to fill every portion of the trail.
Proceeds from admission will help fund the team's trip to Florida in the spring, and Make-A-Wish will get a portion of the profits.
"Our student athlete committee decided every team must raise $6,000. It's a big conference thing," Nickerson said. "The things that worked really well, we're going to keep, and the others we'll do differently."
He said the idea for a Halloween project came from his former coaching position at which the team constructed a haunted attraction in a vacant dormitory. That was popular during its time of operation before the building was renovated.
Tiffin University's wooded outdoor trail has many natural features to include in the fright, but it also has drawbacks.
No electricity is available, so the team had to build fire pits and purchase torches and flashlights.
After paying admission, guests will receive flashlights and gather around a campfire to hear a backstory about the woods, and they will learn about Harry, the person for whom the trail is named.
From there, hikers will be on their own to make their way through the woods.
Two footbridges are being turned into creepy tunnels.
Mummies and other gruesome creatures will be hung from branches and tucked between the trees.
A clearing is being transformed into a cemetery with open graves, tombstones and coffins.
The softball team includes 24 girls who have been constructing and painting set pieces, gathering costumes and setting up each area. In addition, they all have jobs to do while the trail is open. Many of them will sit quietly in dark, waiting for unsuspecting hikers. The darkness alone adds a frightening element for the haunters and the haunted.
"It was good, because that scares people. ... It kind of worked out in our favor, being so dark," Herbert said. "It's kinda creepy out there because you can hear things, especially when there's nobody in the trail. You can hear thinks crackle."
Nickerson said a man from Findlay attended last year and enjoyed it so much he has been helping with this year's trail. To promote the trail, the softball players entered a unit in the Tiffin Developmental Center parade, where they handed out fliers and coupons.
Two children's nights are planned 6-7 p.m. Friday and Oct. 29. From 7 p.m. to midnight, only adults are admitted. Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase. Admission is $6 per person for all guests. Look for flaming markers at the Miami Street entrance.