Fun and frights

Saturday, October 27, 2007
Hunter Urhahn held the hand of his aunt, Susie Hallgren, while she held the hand of his sister, Kaelyn Urhahn, as they moved past a witch in the Haunted Hall of Horror on Oct. 20. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Ghosts of Elvis, killer clowns and headless horsemen invade Cape Girardeau this weekend in a host of haunted house attractions, Halloween festivals and other happenings for people seeking fun as well as frights.

"We have some comical ghosts," said Mary Elliot, co-host of the 17th annual Rocky Holler Haunted Hayrides, about five miles north of Cape Girardeau on Interstate 55.

The hayrides last about 40 minutes, and seven trailers are going at once, past monsters and props of all degrees of scariness, Elliot said.

That's where you'll find the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself -- or at least his ghost -- as well as the Headless Horseman.

"We pitch the ride as a little funny and a little scary, " Elliot said.

Awaiting visitors as they exit the ride are souvenir T-shirts proclaiming "I survived Rocky Holler Hayrides," and a bonfire complete with hot dogs and marshmallows for roasting.

Elliot and her husband, Ted, have been hosting the ride for 17 years. Each year, she said, they wonder whether they'll continue to go through the huge effort of pulling the attraction together.

"Then, we'll hear people say, 'I can't wait to come back next year,'" she said.

On the opposite end of the scare spectrum, an eerie little girl slowly circles the end of a shadowed hallway on a tricycle at the Arena Building's Haunted Hall of Horror.

Visitors round a corner and Michael Myers, the killer from the "Halloween" movies, stands at the ready, wielding his blade.

"There's scares everywhere," recreation coordinator Jared Tanz said of the hidden corridors and tunnels.

The theme of the Haunted Hall this year is the past visitors who "may not have made it out alive," Tanz said.

Though the 20- to 25-minute walk-through the transformed arena building allows children of all ages, Tanz said several adults reached a point where they decided they didn't want to go any farther because the Haunted Hall was too scary.

Arguably one of the spookier local attractions is the Haunted Ghost Town at Black Forest Village, in part because the setting, a mile back into the woods, already creates a creepy mood.

"On foggy nights, we'll have people ask, 'Whoa, how much did you pay for that effect?'" said Darla Macke, who manages the village and its attractions along with her husband, Greg.

Once inside the village, visitors tour three sections of the "ghost town," beginning with a series of seven rooms, each with its own theme, such as a butcher shop or execution chamber, though Macke says she always insists on an authentic-looking graveyard.

After the themed rooms, guests proceed to a maze created from about 300 bales of straw, replete with dead ends and people lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on unsuspecting visitors.

The prospect of being caught in a dead end with one of them adds to the fear factor, Macke said.

Her only rules are no current movie themes and no chain saws.

"There's no blood and no guts, but we definitely scare people; we scare adults just as much as children," she said.

The Haunted Ghost Town usually attracts about 2,500 visitors each October.

More shivers await those willing to venture out to the train tracks and check out the Haunted Train at Iron Mountain Railroad in Jackson, where the staff has turned an old legend into this year's theme, said manager Mike Uskiwich The haunted train features a re-enactment of the "Iron Mountain baby" scenario, a story about a baby thrown from the train and rescued, he said.

For the faint of heart, plenty of fright-free festivities are available at Beggs family Farm, where visitors explore a 10-acre corn maze, this year in the shape of U.S. Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, said owner Donnie Beggs.

New this year at the farm is a corn cannon, where guests can shoot corn at various targets. Visitors can also take a wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch, play on the giant slide, mine for gemstones, sample homemade fudge or try their hand at Moonlit Barnyard Putt Putt golf, Beggs said.

Spooky Science, offered from 2 to 5 p.m. today at Southeast Missouri State University, is a class where children can join KFVS12 science reporter Jason Lindsey in learning how to create bubbling potions, slimy glowing goo and spooky sounds in the name of science.

The Southeast Missourian is holding an online Halloween photo contest. Prizes will be awarded for best child costume (under 16), best adult costume (17 and older), best pet costume and best pumpkin design. The entry period ends Friday. For full details, visit www.semissourian.com/halloween.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 245

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Want to go?

Fall Family Festival

5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday

Osage Community Centre

No scary costumes

Contact 573-334-4600 for info

Fall Festival

Nov. 3 and Nov. 4

Crown Ridge

19620 Route B

Ste. Genevieve, Mo., 63670

live music, wine, appetizers, games, silent auction

Contact 573-883-9909 for info

Haunted Trail

Today

Highway 34 W to Burfordville, turn right on Route UU, about seven miles to entrance on right

Rocky Holler Haunted Hayrides

7 to 11 p.m. today

County Road 303

Call 243-6440

Haunted Hall of Horror

Arena Building

7 p.m. to midnight today, Wednesday

Call 335-5421

Haunted Ghost Town

6:30 to 10:30 p.m. today

Susie Hallgren, Kaelyn Urhahn and Hunter Urhahn made their way past a gory outstretched hand of a monster in the Haunted Hall of Horror at the Arena Building. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Call 335-0899

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