Halloween fun conjuring in Leominster, Gardner.
Something is brewing in North Central Massachusetts.
In the Twin Cities and beyond, Halloween lovers are working hard to scare the pants off you, make you dance till you drop and show you an all-around Spooktacular time.
The Haunting of Barrett Park, Leominster's notorious fright trail, is synonymous with the Halloween season for many of the local residents. Each year, thousands of people line up to walk through the trail and the experience does not disappoint.
The Haunting is open from 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27. Tickets sales end at 10 p.m., and refreshments and activities are available while patrons make their way through the line. It is important to organizers that small groups go through the trail in clumps every few minutes rather than in one continuous line - this helps with their goal of achieving maximum fright.
"It's scarier than most, and that's kind of a triumph for us," said Greg Chapdelaine, a purchasing executive at Leominster City Hall who has long been at the helm of the event.
Along with J.R. La Pointe, who manages the crew that creates the trail, Mr. Chapdelaine and dozens of volunteers work with a modest budget to create the kind of fright that is "bigger and better" than the rest.
In other words, your terror is absolutely guaranteed.
While the trail is designed for ages 10 and older, Mr. Chapdelaine said it really depends on the kid. But one thing is for sure: He has seen grown men crumble during the walk, which many wait more than an hour to experience and is over within 10 minutes. Scenes may include a mine shaft, a cavern and a village, with new vignettes being added with each passing year.
But at the end, nobody is complaining.
"The cost is $10 a ticket, and it's well worth it," he added. Mr. LaPointe has scoped out the competition, and he is confident that the Haunting offers a far better value for what the public gets.
"What's nice is that most of the money goes back into the following year's budget so we can keep growing and expanding," said Mr. Chapdelaine.
For the kids are that aren't quite ready for the big leagues of Halloween frights, Leominster is also sponsoring a Halloween Parade and dance party.
On Oct. 27, kids from all over are invited to don their costumes and meet in the parking lot of Leominster Credit Union, 20 Adams St., for a Halloween parade that will end at Carter Park. There, a DJ will entertain and amuse with music and games.
After the dance party, families are invited to hit up local businesses - those with balloons outside their establishments - for a little pre-Halloween trick-or-treating.
Earlier on Oct. 27 just down the way in Gardner, Mount Wachusett Community College, 444 Green St., is serving up a little Halloween fun for moms and kids.
While children participate in costumed fun on one end of the fitness center, a Halloween Zumba launch party will be on tap for their mothers. The 10 a.m. class is free, and children need to be registered for the party in advance.
And rounding out the spirit of the season, the small businesses in downtown Gardner will be participating in another year of "Falloween" on Oct. 26, where young kids can attend a 10 a.m. story time at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library and then hit the streets to trick-or-treat. Businesses will have an orange flyer in the window if they are open for preschool business.
PHOTOG: T&G File Photo/LAURA BENNETT
CUTLINE: J.R. La Pointe, left, and Vinny Palermo add final touches to a ghoul for a previous Haunting of Barrett Park in Leominster.