Well before Halloween, it’s already cool to be a ghoul

So maybe it’ll be a while until the frost is on the pumpkin. Nevertheless, as scary as it seems, Halloween activities already are upon us, beginning this weekend.

And they’re as popular as ever, according to organizers.

About 1,000 people visited the nonprofit The Haunting each October weekend last year, said owner and coordinator Cheryl Shireman. And the 45-minute spooky trail offers new chills and thrills this year — along with a favorite from the past on the property at 7060 W. County Road 200N in Columbus.

“You never know when or where the headless horseman will appear,” Shireman said.

The shadowy character comes complete with a rearing quarterhorse, sounding a warning before scampering backward into the black of the night. Plus, the horseman shoots fireballs from his hands this year.

“It’s pretty spectacular,” Shireman said. “And some people last year said the horseman was one of the creepiest things they’d ever seen.”

She humorously recalls that some children last year still wanted to pet the animal before leaving the property. In a rare move for her, since she loves youngsters and animals alike, she politely declined.

“It sort of ruins the special, scary effect,” she said.

The effect this year includes a new 160-foot-long mine shaft accessible via a creepy elevator.

The creep factor has been tweaked substantially for the latest version of Ceraland Park’s When Darkness Falls trail at 3989 S. County Road 525E. Last year’s heavy rains dampened crowd sizes, said Beth Dawson, Ceraland’s assistant executive director.

“Obviously, since this is outside, it is heavily weather- dependent,” Dawson said.

For the younger audience, Ceraland again will feature whimsical Ghouly Golf. But the more mature crowd still will get a chilling reception, if you will.

Coordinator Corey Behymer has altered the adult-oriented trail enough that people who previously have visited still will be caught off guard. Dawson chuckled when asked how long it takes to make it through.

“That depends, she said, “if you’re walking or running.”

Scaring up good entertainment
  • The Haunting: Fridays and Saturdays through Halloween; 5 to 6 p.m. for the child-friendly, non-scary trail with a suggested donation of $5; 8 p.m. until late for the 40-minute adult trail, including a visit from the headless horseman, $12.At the Shireman family property, operating as a non-profit entity rescuing animals and finding homes for them. Address is 7060 W. County Road 200 North in Columbus. Information: 812-372-2946 or shiremanhomestead.com.
  • Cerland Park’s When Darkness Falls: Haunted trail with special lighting and effects at Ceraland Park, 3989 S. County Road 525E southeast of Columbus. Miniature golf for younger children not mature enough for the trail’s scares. Every Friday and Saturday through Halloween. Ghouly Golf for young children runs 6 to 10 p.m. The haunted trail runs from 8 to 11 p.m.Admission: $10 for the haunted trail, $5 for Ghouly Golf.Information: 812-377-5849 or ceralandland.org.
  • Night of a Thousand Jacks: 3 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24, along Fourth Street in downtown Columbus. Free. The Advocates For Children fundraiser will present fun opportunities for the entire family, including free kids’ costume contests, games and activities, musical entertainment, food and more.

      Information: 812-372-2808.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.