Dead Acres claimed more than 2,000 victims last year, ensuring the haunted forest attraction will rise again.
Last year, the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department held their first large-scale October attraction, turning Ardmore Regional Park into a fog-filled haunted walkthrough by teaming up with local performance group Ardmore Little Theater. Thursday, the department reported a final tally of the October attraction’s attendance, expenses and profits.
“It was phenomenal for our first year,” Assistant Director Alicia Henry said. “We had no idea what our expenses would be. We still brought in a lot of money.”
Attendance brought in $33,867 and expenses totaled $11,280, bringing their total profits to $22,587. Ardmore Little Theater provided actors, costumes and props for the forest and received 30 percent of the profits from the event in exchange, leaving Parks and Recreation with $15,811 total.
Over the course of seven nights, 2,112 people attended Dead Acres, the main attraction, and 726 people attended Hidden Hollows, a shorter, less intense walkthrough. Guests could also attend a free fall carnival at Regional Park.
“We didn’t count the people who attended the carnival, we have no way of tracking them,” Henry said.
For guests, walking through a forest crawling with witches, zombies, vampires, clowns and giant spiders was chilling. For the staff, that wasn’t the scary part.
“We talked about doing it for many years, and then to actually have it was nerve-wracking,” Henry said. “You have to think of everything. How are we going to work out the timing? How are we going to communicate?”
Henry, who led the project, said it was an all-hands-on-deck production for parks’ staff, who had never staged anything on that scale before.
“This was our first year, we were starting completely from scratch,” Henry said. “We had to buy a lot of things and build a lot of things.”
Henry said they began planning the haunted forest by contacting other haunted attractions in the Oklahoma City area for guidance. She said they gave them pointers about the cost of running a haunted attraction, as well as what equipment to buy.
“They brought up fog machines, they talked about generators, things we really didn’t have a full concept of,” Henry said. “When you start bringing those things in, when we started buying props and costumes, we realized, okay, we’re probably going to spend at least $15,000. Fortunately, we came in under that.”
Henry said the staff saved money where they could. Many set pieces were built out of salvaged lumber the department already had. Antiques, Ect. donated a large set piece that became a mausoleum in the cemetery scene, which itself was built on an old defunct horseshoe pit inside the park that already uncannily resembled a graveyard.  
Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Ervin said the event drew people to the park from surrounding areas and reminded locals that the park has a large trail system.
“All of those things help with our quality of life and revenue into our city, and we can’t really measure that, but I believe it was successful,” Ervin said.