ROCHESTER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the woods …
Fulton County Historical Society will host its 14th annual Haunted Woods Trail on the grounds of the Fulton County Museum located at 37 E. 375N, on the west side of US 31 four miles north of Rochester.
“Partially guided tours” will run from 7:30 p.m. until the last group is finished “rain or moonlight” Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26. Tickets will be sold inside the museum until 11 p.m.
The cost is $8 for adults 12 and older, $3 for children 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and younger. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
After they purchase their tickets, attendees board a tram on the south side of the round barn and are taken to the “scare area” in the woods. Some groups may experience wait time, during which they can browse the museum and purchase cookies, cider and hot chocolate.
“From the time you get on the tram until you get back up to the museum normally takes about one hour,” said Melinda Clinger, director of the museum and the historical society.
In past years, up to 1,000 visitors have enjoyed the event. “The trams will hold 60 people,” said Clinger. “Then when they are down at the woods they are broken up into groups of eight to 10 people.”
The event is designed to provide “family fun,” but precautions are taken not to unduly traumatize children.
“My feeling is not to scare kids who are not used to watching scary movies at home,” Clinger said. “So if someone has small children who are not used to that king of thing, I personally advise them not to put their children through that.
“We have radio contact with security people who help pass the word to our volunteers about small children in the group and the volunteers do tone down the scare when needed. Some will even take off their masks to show the kids it is just for fun.
“Some kids get down there and don’t even get into the woods, so they go and sit on the tram to go back up front. We would love to have things for the younger kids to do, but do not have enough volunteers at this time to make that happen.”
About 40 to 60 volunteers participate in various capacities each year to bring about the event, whose proceeds go to the museum’s and society’s “general expenses to help keep history alive in Fulton County,” said Clinger.
She offered some advice to help visitors get the most out of their experience. “Come prepared to be scared. Dress warm and have on good shoes or boots, depending on the weather. You will be walking through dark places and it is a wooded area. Also, leave your cellphones or things that you may lose in your vehicles.”
Clinger also issued a plea for help. “We are always looking for volunteers to help with this and other activities at the museum,” she said. “There is something for all ages. If you are interested in helping, call the museum at (574) 223-4436 or contact Fred Oden at (574) 971-6637 after 4 p.m.”
For more information, visit www.fultoncountyhistory.org.