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Big surprises in store for the big 3-0 of Rosemount's Haunted Woods Trail

The Haunted Woods Trail committee always has a few surprises lined up for its annual event. But with it being the 30 anniversary of the event, this year they have some extra special things planned.

"It is exciting. 30 years is a long time," said committee co-chair Mike Bouchard.

The Haunted Woods Trail will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Central Park. The trail, which winds through the park, will be transformed from a pleasant walkway to a path of tricks and treats with a few laughs mixed in. It's not a scary haunted trail, but offers plenty of Halloween delights for children in preschool through middle school.

"It's so much fun," said Barb Hester, committee co-chair.

A new feature of this year's trail will be areas for photos. Hester said they've had a number of requests for areas to take pictures.

The Haunted Woods started in 1982. While Bouchard has only had a hand in the event since 2003, 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 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. Those are still part of the current trail.

"Some of the props have survived the test of time," said Bouchard.

Bouchard said the committee tries 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 Wood. It was scaled back from the original event and held in Central Park. Only 300 people attended but it began an era of growth.

Hester said last year the event drew nearly 3,000 people. At one point 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.

"I'll tell you what though, that line goes pretty fast," said Bouchard.

The event is a true 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 make their way to the park to help transform it. 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. And then volunteers have to dismantle everything.

"It's amazing that this thing gets pulled off every year. Volunteers make it happen," said Bouchard.

Hester said while it gets to be a long day, the two hours that the trail is open make all the work worth it.

"I love to see the kids and listen to the crowd," said Hester.

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. Additionally, Bouchard said they are looking for donations.

The trail begins at the park and ride lot on Hwy. 3. Admission is free but cash donations will be accepted at the trail entrance. The group will also accept non-perishable food donations for the local food shelf.

Bouchard encouraged residents to wear costumes but also advised people to dress for the 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.

For more information or to volunteer call Mike Bouchard at 612-840-9016 or email

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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