Roxana Haunted Forest rises from the grave

One never knows what could be lurking in the woods this time of year, especially at the Haunted Forest, which is returning to the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company after about a decade’s absence.

“It’s that lure of being scared, but you’re safe at the same time. They want that thrill,” said co-chair Glenn Johnson Jr., comparing haunted houses to a rollercoaster ride. “This time of year, you go crawling though somebody’s house or forest.”

Johnson said the RVFC hasn’t hosted the Haunted Forest in about 10 years. Between weather and changes in membership, the Haunted Forest crumbled into fond memories, he said. But the next generation of firefighters was ready for the reawakening.

“The young guys got back together and decided this is something we want to try,” Johnson said.

Resurrecting the attraction has been a major effort. Volunteers have worked since springtime to revamp the trail — especially after last weekend’s 6-inch rainfall swamped the site.

“We are basically building back in the woods, so you have to haul it all back there,” said Johnson, noting that the volunteers must also clear the trail, remove fallen trees and “take back what Mother Nature’s had for 10 or 12 years now.”

The trail layout hasn’t changed from the 1990s, but the buildings have gotten a facelift. Old eerie buildings are appropriate to haunted forests, but the firefighters are ensuring these buildings are also structurally sound.

The Haunted Forest is set to scare visitors from dusk until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for the rest of October (Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26), as well as on Halloween, Oct. 31, and on Nov. 1 and 2.

“It’s a fun fundraiser for us, and everybody seems to enjoy it,” Johnson said.

The Haunted Forest is located just southeast of Roxana Fire Hall, where people may park and look for the bonfire and ticket booth. Admission costs $10 per person, but the experience is not recommended for younger children. Hot chocolate, coffee and food will be available for sale, and people can cozy up to the bonfire while waiting for their scare.

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