Haunted Trail: 24 years of thrills and chills

Lynn Lance greets visitors to this year’s trail. (Robyn Dexter photos)

The Waterloo Sportsman’s Club opened its Haunted Trail this past weekend in a blaze of glory, scaring more than 1,000 visitors during its opening two nights.

Rick McMahan, the co-chairman of the trail this year, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the first weekend.

Each weekend, he said, the trail plans to see more and more visitors as Halloween approaches.

“We generally get anywhere between 3,800 and 5,200 total visitors (each year),” he said. “Last year was on the lower end of the spectrum because it rained one and-a-half nights.”

The Haunted Trail, set back deep in the woods of the Waterloo Sportsman’s Club, located just south of Waterloo at 4903 Sportsman Road, consists of more than two dozen “scenes” stretched out over a quarter mile.

This year marks the 24th year of the trail, and McMahan said the crew is already planning for a big quarter-century trail next year that will outdo them all.

With a theme of “Night Creatures” this year, the trail features hundreds of volunteers who are scattered every few feet along the dimly lit pathway, each dressed in eerie attire.

Sandy Mosbacher, who has worked on the Haunted Trail for 15 years, said oftentimes an entire family will participate together by dressing up for a “scene.”

Beware: Della the Fortune Teller has her eyes on you at the Waterloo Sportsman’s Club Haunted Trail. (Robyn Dexter photo)

“The people who work out there are great workers and put their hearts and souls into the trail,” she said.

McMahan said the weekends usually run pretty smoothly and are really only influenced by weather.

“Everyone comes out to have a good time, so we very rarely see any trouble,” he said.

This year, the trail has a new feature for the younger crowd: a pumpkin train that travels across a bridge to a non-scary section featuring large, inflatable Halloween-themed characters and a pavilion where they can decorate a pumpkin.

The pumpkin train makes its way around the pavilion, and the kids get candy as they head back toward the main area.

“It’s the first year doing this,” he said. “We ran the train for two hours on Friday night and we had 25 trips with six kids on each train.”

He said the best part of working the Haunted Trail is interacting with the volunteers.

The age range of the workers along the trail is quite wide. The youngest members of the Haunted Trail crew are just eight years old.

“We have some people out here, including some board members, that have their grand-kids working with them,” he said. “I love to see the younger generation coming into this and getting involved.”

McMahan said he loves observing all the people he works with and being a part of something so spooky and fun.

“I love watching their faces while they’re working,” he said. “They take so much pride in the parts they play.”

The Haunted Trail is open for the next two weekends on Friday and Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m.

Cost to participate in the Haunted Trail is $12. Call 458-9927 or visit online at www.waterloosportsmansclub.org for more information.

McMahan looks forward to these next two weekends, when he said traffic will increase even more.

“Our last weekend is always the best and busiest,” he said.

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