In the spirit of the impending fall gloom and the wicked fun that comes with Halloween, Ryan and I decided to take the kids to the “Haunted Hallows”. (As described via Facebook invite, the Hallows are only $5 & all of that money supports Youth Go, an amazing non-profit organization dedicated to positively influencing kids, helping them succeed, & having a positive impact on their lives. So come & support this awesome place!) We talked to the boys about this adventure earlier in the day, and they assured me they were very brave and this would be a fun experience for them. I was still a tad reluctant, as this would be their first real haunted adventure, but I knew that Jake would be fine and Ben tends to follow suit with his brothers reactions.
Our adventure started in a most unusual way. Our GPS was apparently afraid of hitting the Hallows, and for whatever reason, our programmed destination lead us to a parking lot next to a “gentleman’s” club. (Starz, for those of you who are local… It would be my assumption that the edge of the Memorial Park woods must have been on the back acre of the club.) While that was a frightening thought all on it’s own, it was not the scare I was thinking of subjecting my kids to just yet. (Or ever.) After all, zombies may not scare Jake, but girls still have cooties for sure. After a few texts and phone calls, we were on our way and we quickly found the correct destination.
We were lucky enough to have a few friends of mine join us on our adventure. (Lizz, Youth GO member, derby volunteer and amazing babysitter… Who didn’t lock the kids in a closet despite an onslaught of underwear bombs at her… And Stacy, amazing girl Lizz introduced to my disc golf league. Stacy’s husband was also along.) Lizz was actually volunteering to work the Hallows, and so you can imagine that we received VIP treatment as we awaited our turn to enter the forest.
At each waiting station, a ghoul of some sort would come to our group and tell us legends of people who had went before us into the haunted woods, and who never came back out. They informed us that the woods were known to be haunted, and zombies and other spooks would be attracted to our lantern, which Jake bravely decided to hold. One such ghoul began to quiz Jake and Ben on their knowledge of the scarier side of life and ask them what they feared most. Ben proudly proclaimed, “actually, zombies are not dead. They are ‘UNDEAD’. Ghosts are dead. And I am not afraid of those things. I am afraid of wasps, and bees, tornadoes and some poisonous spiders.” That particular ghoul did a nice job of squashing the smile that was trying to escape as Ben spoke to her. She informed Ben that nonetheless, children seemed to have a special force field around them that zombies and other spirits could not penetrate, though parents were not known to be immune…. Those words seem to strike Ben in some way, and he quickly pulled me to him so I could be within his force field. And then, almost as an after thought, he reached back and grabbed my friend Stacy’s hand as well, just to be on the safe side. (Apparently, Ryan would be tough enough on his own.)
Finally, it was our turn to enter the woods. Ben kept repeating that he wasn’t scared, and Jake was making glib jokes about monster’s jumping out and mistakenly shouting silly things, like, “POOP!” instead of the standard, “boo….”. And, as expected, spirits would come out and haunt us as we walked, with Jake bravely holding our lantern at the front of the pack with Ben at his side.
Jake was a very courageous pack leader. He decidedly did not like ghouls and zombies “breathing in his face”, but he was not really bothered by anything else, and he kept in the spirit of the walk. I would occasionally call to the back of the pack, “Stacy, did you make it through that? Are you still back there?” And she would answer, and Ben would encourage her to stay close to him so that he could shield her. A few haunting encounters in, and Jake was leading the pack alone, as Ben was between Ryan and I, holding one of each of our hands. Ryan would ask Benjamin if he was scared, and Ben would hesitantly whisper, “sort of…”
Eventually, as one ghoul would pass and we were in moment of calm that followed, Ben began to ask Stacy if she was okay before I would get the chance. It was very sweet.
Everything had went so well. We were nearing what felt like it must be the end of our trail. To this point, Ben had been somewhat spooked, though neither boy truly seemed to be scared. We walked up on a man digging what could only be a shallow grave. He turned around and asked Jake to “lend a hand”. Jake said no, in a punk like preteen kind of way and we walked on. The gentleman seemed very perturbed. “Kids these days! Too lazy to do anything.” And he huffed and hurried away from us. To our surprise, he whipped around, just in front of Jake and said, “well, if you wont give me a hand, I’ll just have to take one!” And with that, this man raised a chainsaw high in the air and pulled the cord hard. Jake jumped out of the way just in time to leave Ben exposed to the loud roaring of the small engine. Ben shrieked with all his might and instinctively, Ryan, Stacy and I all wrapped our arms around Ben and held on to him for dear life. (Well done, by the way. SO very scary, for each of us.)
Once Ben was no longer frozen in fear, he jumped up into Ryan’s arms where he chose to stay until we had finally found the exit of the Hallows…
On the drive home, Jake explained to Ben how these people were all just actors and how they worked hard remembering their lines so they could scare us and raise money for the Youth Go organization. Ben believed him and understood what he was saying. And yet, all the way home, Ben could be heard saying quietly, “but it’s really nice that none of my family dies ever.”
Though they both seemed to enjoy our experience, I did recieve extra tight cuddles at bedtime. All in all, I’m excited to see what they will have to say about this tomorrow.
As the weather gets cooler and we work on giving one another a chill, I hope that you and your families enjoy the season. Happy Haunting!