The Nicest Ghouls North of the Mason-Dixon
Last Saturday, we went up to the Haunted Mill in Spring Grove, PA, with friends from work. We went to the Haunted Mill last year with Tristan and Don, and we went some years ago with friends on a disastrous trip that ended up burgeoning at the last minute to include a dozen people we didn't know, some of whom showed up over an hour late (meaning that we drove what was then a considerable distance to have time for only one attraction) and some of whom got so drunk on rum and Vanilla Coke (remember that??) smuggled in that they fell asleep somewhere like a bunch of wayward Hobbits and kept some of our group at the Mill until closing time, trying to find them. (Bobby and I rolled out, refusing to take responsibility for idiots we don't know and whom we didn't want to spend time with anyway.) Anyway, it's much more fun going with ... I hesitate to say responsible or mature people, since I don't think we keep company with anyone like that, but at least people who aren't stuck in that stage of mindless rebellion where getting drunk and falling asleep at a haunted house becomes brag-worthy. But I digress.
I think the Haunted Mill might have the most polite monsters north of the Mason-Dixon. Perhaps anywhere; I don't know any more polite south of the Mason-Dixon either. The fumes from the chainsaws were really bad at one point, so one of our group had her scarf over her nose, and one of the monsters asked if something smelled. She said, "No, just the fumes are really bad!" and he replied, "I'm sorry about that, ma'am." Another one, when we reached a point so dark that someone said, "I can't see where to go next!" turned on the light for us. And when a group of teenagers got lost in Maw's Crazy Maze, one of the clowns came in to rescue them.
What a warm, fuzzy experience.
Last night, we went to Bedlam in the Boro, which is put on by the Lineboro Fire Department each year as a fundraiser and is "cast" with local students. We went to that last year as well, with my mom-in-law and sis-in-law Erin. This year, we went with Erin again and my parents. My inlaws are in the midst of foster-parenting classes and couldn't come.
It was much busier this year, and very chilly, and I expected Dad to fuss because of the long wait and the cold, but he was surprisingly well-behaved and seemed to have a good time. The idea of my dad on a haunted hayride is hard to imagine to start, but he's getting more adventurous lately.
I've been on so many of these "haunted" things over the years that I am past the point of even being startled on them anymore. They're cheesy and campy and yet still fun, in a large part because of the cheese and the camp, and also because of the people who become downright terrified on them. Bobby and I have decided that we need to find a new one next year, though. We'll do Bedlam again to support the LVFD--after all, they'd be the second to respond if our house were burning down--but the Haunted Mill needs a rest after two straight years.
One thing I don't understand is people who take small children on these things. At least one kid on Bedlam last night was in tears by the end. At the Mill, people were going through the haunted houses with kids small enough that they had to be carried. I remember riding through Ocean City's haunted house as a kid with my hands over my eyes through the whole thing, and it was standard ghost/witch/vampire fare, nothing nearly as intense as the Haunted Mill or Bedlam. Well who am I to judge. I just can't imagine seeing an attraction where people run alongside the wagon with chainsaws and where one exhibit involves giant pigs slaughtering humans and thinking, "That'd really be something my six-year-old would enjoy."
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