A hungry backwoods cannibal might tell you that you sure do smell good. A female apparition garbed in 19th century attire asks you to join her in a graveyard, while silent guides in the guise of Grim Reapers point the way. All of this and more awaits visitors to Regional Park’s Haunted Forest.
This will be the first year the park has presented the Haunted Forest. There will be two trails, Dead Acres “where fear comes out to play,” and Hidden Hollows “for the faint of heart.” In addition to the trails, free carnival games will be open to the public. Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Ervin described a bit of what guests can expect.
“There’s lots of different elements,” Ervin said. “There’s the Dead Acres, which is really scary. Then there’s the lesser scary Hidden Hollows.” While both these will involve varying levels of fright, there will also be plenty of fun to be had for those that want some family fun. “Even if you don’t want to do the trails, you can come to the carnival. Bring your kids dressed up and just have a good time.”
The fun will take place rain or moonshine on Oct. 18-20, Oct. 25-27 and Halloween Night at Regional Park. The only exception would be in the event of lightning which would cancel the event for the evening. Signs will direct visitors to parking. Hidden Hollows and the carnival games will be open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dead Acres will be open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Entrance for Hidden Hollows is $6 per person and Dead Acres is $12 per person. A concession area will also be available for purchase of refreshments and special Haunted Forest t-shirts. Credit cards are not accepted.
In addition to the spooky outdoor atmosphere, the actors are one of the elements that truly make this event special. All are volunteers from the Ardmore Little Theater and have spent months preparing their costumes, makeup and characters. While some will jump out to scare unsuspecting visitors, others occasionally appear alongside your group during the journey. All the while, spectral Grim Reapers appear and disappear  — silently pointing you down the path.
Appropriate ages for each trail are up to the discretion of a legal guardian, and while  some may not be overly frightened while walking Dead Acres, the screams from a group ahead may echo back along the trail foreboding a sense of dread. Other factors to take into account when walking the trail are the use of fog machines and strobe lighting. While this adds to the fun and atmosphere for some, others might approach with caution. Guests with respiratory sensitivities, history of seizures or epilepsy, heart disease, or high blood pressure are advised not to participate. Because of these factors and the low lighting along the way, all guests are required to sign a waiver before entering the trails.
This event is the culmination of months of preparation on the part of the actors, set designers, and other volunteers. Those that are unable to attend this year’s Haunted Forest can look forward to giving it a try next year because the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Dept. plan on making this an annual event.