By Sandra Zunino
When local 4H youth group leader, Julie Whiteside decided to turn her love for Halloween into a fundraiser for the 4H Park, several groups got on board. Consequently, on Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 the 4H Park will transform into a haunted Halloween trail for kids of all ages to enjoy.
“It started as a way to provide a community service project the kids would actually enjoy participating in,” says Julie. “I wanted to do it last year, but couldn’t get it organized in time.”
Not only is Julie is a leader for the Farm to Market 4H club, her husband Mike has served on the 4H Park Board and was Fair Chairman for 2008. Proceeds from the event will benefit the park.
“We all benefit from the use of the 4H Park,” she says, “whether it’s to hold fundraisers or just for enjoyment.”
Julie distributed flyers to other 4H club leaders as well as Christine Johnston, County Extension Director and Education and her assistant, Sally Rosenberry. The first formal meeting took place in early September. Julie says she had no idea how complicated it is to hold such an event and that it’s been a learning experience.
“We needed to get the Fire Marshall involved for safety reasons,” she says. “The health department was also contacted because there will be a concession stand.” The police needed to be informed that an activity was taking place and an ambulance was arranged to be on the grounds in the event of an emergency. Even the Board of Education had to review Julie’s flyers before allowing them to be distributed at area schools. Fortunately, the new lot behind the horse barn will be open for parking.
Four other 4H groups have committed to the project as well as the Suddlersville Fire Department. 4H Park Board members will attend the entrance gate and All Stars 4H Club will serve refreshments. While the effort is proving to be a lot of work, it’s also great fun. Both parent volunteers and 4H kids are creating elaborate props including coffins, electric chairs and padded rooms.
Julie says the clubs will be working on transforming the barn the entire week before the event. “We are trying to be creative,” she says. “Each of the barns will have a definite theme.”
The haunted trail will begin at the dairy barn. Whether the tour takes place on foot or on hay wagons, is still being determined. Julie says the haunted trail may be too scary for very young children. “We don’t have a section for really little kids,” she says. “Maybe next year, if more 4H clubs can contribute.”
Julie, who admits she’s never grown up, has visited several professional haunted houses with her family, including Jason’s Woods in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “I like Halloween and would love for this to become an annual event,” she says.
The 4H Haunted Halloween Trail is open on Friday, October 24, from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday, October 25, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Admission is $5 for 6-year-olds and up. Children under 5 are free. For more information, call Julie at 410-758-3611.