A passionate group of scare fans and volunteers have made Rainy River the home of the scariest event in the district.
In conjunction with Rainy River Rec Centre, the town will be playing host to the Trail of Terror, a haunted walk that is being held for the next two Saturdays in order to provide safe and spooky fun for those with a stout constitution (and their families).
Danielle Smith is the former Recreation Director for the Rainy River Rec Centre, and gives credit to Shannon and Taya Hagarty and Martin Kreger for coming up with the idea to put on the event.
“They've just always wanted to do this and me being new, they had presented it to me and I said 'Let's do this. It's something new, why not? Let's go for it'” Smith explained.
Smith said once the idea was presented, she put in her time helping get the creature feature off the ground, and though there's only been one official night held so far, she said it's been a scary success.
“Our launch date was this Saturday, it went absolutely fabulous,” Smith said.
“We've heard tons of great reviews and comments, people who wanted to come check it out and thought they wouldn't get scared and wound up being a little bit jumpy throughout the trail.”
The concept is eerily simple. Participants sign up to take a walk through the trail, which has been decorated and kitted out with all manner of frightening decor, and features a handful of volunteers who will do their best to get a scare from their victims as they wander through the marked passages. Groups have been limited to a maximum of six people and are let through the trail in such a way that they won't encounter another group in order to keep everyone safely distanced.
“There's not really a storyline through it, there's just five or six different set ups throughout the trail,” Smith explained.
“The trail itself probably takes eight to ten minutes to walk through. We have people leading [visitors] up to the trail and then they're left on their own, and they're in there with all the scarers. We have a path leading them through this trail, where they pass a graveyard and haunted school yard and a deserted area. They make their way through the forest trails and they come across spiders and ghouls and goblins and meet Frankenstein.”
If the event sounds like a spooky good time, that's entirely the point. Smith noted that there is both a “soft scare” experience that is aimed at younger children and families and takes place during daylight hours, as well as what they call the “hard scare” version, which is aimed at people who think they're tough enough. The hard scare version of the trail runs from 7:00 p.m. until midnight each Saturday until Halloween.
While the group might have had only one night go so far, Smith said the response from even before their official opening has been staggering.
“It's kind of hard to give a solid number but we had over 700 people book,” she explained.
“Shannon started the online booking for safety concerns of handling money and such, so they have to do e-transfer or pay online, whatever is convenient for them and they just book a time slot. it was up to their discretion to pick what date they wanted to come out and what time, and we went from there and it sold out within a week of having it promoted online and on our Facebook page, it was completely sold out.”
That the event completely sold out in such a short amount of time is heartening to any group putting on an event for the first time, but Smith said it's also a tad disappointing for other reasons.
“It's unfortunate because had we known it was going to take off this well, we probably would have put in a few more days,” she said.
While Smith explained that the Hagartys and Kreger are the main drive behind the event, it's also been a huge community success, with a number of volunteers and local businesses stepping up to help support the Trail of Terror.
“Shannon, Taya and Martin orchestrated and organized the whole thing, this was their idea,” she said.
“Of course, the local businesses here in Rainy River have also sponsored and donated a large amount of money to buy a lot of the props and stuff to make it a go, so it's definitely a community effort, for sure.”
While it is too late to get in on the scares this year, Smith said she's hopeful that the community response is great enough that the event could make a return in the future to become a Halloween-time fixture of Rainy River.
“Hopefully it can be an every year thing now, because a lot of people were looking forward to it” she said.
“We got a lot of great feedback and comments. Gosh, you wouldn't believe, there are still so many people asking if they can book now, and unfortunately because it's completely sold out, we can't. People were asking if we're going right into December and we're like, 'No, sorry, that's a little too close to Christmas, this is a Halloween event.'”