Haunted Woods Trail returns Oct. 26
Every year, Mike Bouchard wonders if people will come out for the Haunted Woods Trail. He frets over whether they will have enough volunteers to set up and take down. And he worries about the weather.
Each year though, things come together and as another one approaches Bouchard is hoping for the best. The Haunted Woods Trail will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 26 in Rosemount’s Central Park. This is the 31st year the event has been held.
The trail, which winds through the park, will be transformed from a pleasant walk way to a path of tricks and treats with a few laughs mixed in. It’s not a scary haunted trail but offers Halloween delights for children in preschool through middle school.
“We’ve got a few things up our sleeve,” said Bouchard of this year’s event.
Bouchard said in general all the tried and true set ups will be back including photo op areas that the committee added last year.
“The photo op areas were popular,” said Bouchard.
Last year nearly 3,000 people wandered through the trail. Weather is always a big factor and Bouchard anticipates that if the weather is good the event will draw a big crowd.
While the event is free, donations will be accepted. Additionally, non-perishable food items will be collected for the food shelf. Last year, donations filled a city dump truck.
“There’s a real need out there and this is a way we can help,” said Bouchard.
Event historyThe Haunted Woods started in 1982. While Bouchard has only had a hand in the event since 2003, he said he remembers bringing his family down to the high school when the event was held behind the school. Volunteers from the city, Rosemount High School and residents put it on in those early years.
The Halloween blizzard of 1991 dumped more than 41 inches of snow on Minnesota in two days and ruined many of the props. Bouchard said there are a few that survived, including a pirate ship, and they are still part of the current trail.
“Some of the props have survived the test of time,” said Bouchard. He said they try to incorporate new and old props into each year’s trail.
The event floundered for several years in the 1990s. Then in 2001 a group of volunteers decided to revamp the Haunted Woods. It was scaled back from the original event and held in Central Park. Only 300 people attended but it would begin an era of growth.
At one point last year, the line to get into the trail went from the park and ride lot on Highway 3 to the intersection of 145th Street, and down 145th past city hall.
“That’s the longest I’ve ever seen it,” said Bouchard.
The event is a testament to what a dedicated group of people can do. All the props for the trail are put up and taken down in one day. Starting at 8 a.m. dozens of volunteers will help transform the park. Set up includes carving hundreds of pumpkins that are donated by a local grower, putting up sets, and blowing up inflatable props. The trail is open from 6 to 8 p.m. Then volunteers have to dismantle everything.
“It’s amazing that this thing gets pulled off every year. Volunteers make it happen,” said Bouchard.
As they prepare for this year’s event Bouchard said they are still looking for volunteers to help set up and tear down at the end of the night. Anyone who wants to help can show up to the park that morning.
Word to the wise
Bouchard encouraged residents to wear costumes but also advised people to dress for Minnesota October weather. The event will only be cancelled in the event of severe weather like a 1991-type blizzard.
“We spend a good amount of time on this. So the show will go on,” said Bouchard.