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October 5, 2010 > The Haunted Village

The Haunted Village

By Fina Mora

They're back and spookier than ever. For eleven months of each year, goblins and ghosts lie quietly at the Chadbourne Carriage House in Williams Historical Park waiting for the month of October. As days grow short and darkness rules much of the early morning and evening hours, the wind begins to howl accompanied by the moans and groans of these elusive apparitions. Human assistants in orange coats known as the Candle Lighters gather each year to make quarters habitable for the denizens of the dark and provide entertainment for fellow humans as they enjoy the thrills and chills of close encounters with their ethereal inhabitants.

This is the forty-first annual encounter with these creatures arranged by the Candle Lighters. Using a different theme each year, Candle Lighter members, families, sponsors and friends transform the site into an arena of goblins, ghosts, witches and warlocks, providing fun for the community. A "haunted village" waits for the unwary, filled with unexpected surprises. "Ghost House visitors will walk through a haunted toy shop, dentist office, mortuary, and much more," says Publicity Chairperson Terri Schinkel.

At each turn of the path lies the possibility of an unworldly and alarming experience. Fortunately, for the young and those too timid to meet these creatures without protection, a good fairy can be summoned to offer shelter and defend visitors.

Founded in 1969, Candle Lighters began as a fund-raising source for a local YMCA Building Fund. Over the years, the organization has kept its focus on the local community. "Candle Lighters raises donatable dollars solely through the annual Ghost House. Hundreds of Candle Lighters members and volunteers start the construction process several weeks before opening day. Sets, props and plywood game booths are unpacked, assembled with various room displays are sponsored by local merchants," says Schinkel.

In preparation for this event, Candle Lighters and their spouses were hard at work on Saturday, September 25 constructing the accoutrements necessary to make both visitors and haunted house residents comfortable. A midway of games and goodies was under construction outside the Carriage House while inside, "living" rooms were prepared.

Games include a pumpkin walk, ring toss, and lollipop tree as well as face painting, a photo booth, caramel apples and a General Store filled with lots of Halloween toys and goodies. Food booths offer hot dogs, soft drinks and snacks, and fresh, hot popcorn is available from an old-fashioned popcorn wagon.

A Kiddie Costume Parade will take place on the final day, featuring music by the American High School Marching Band. Goodie bags will be provided for all kids who enter, and costume prizes will be awarded by a panel of local celebrity judges.

"The Haunted Village" will open to the public on Saturday, October 9 from 3 p.m. - 10 p.m. and children are invited to participate in a costume parade at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 30. The Candle Lighters and their assistants will guide tours and handle midway games on the following schedule:

Sat: Oct. 9, 15, 23, 30
3 p.m. - 10 p.m. (opens 1 p.m. on Oct 30)

Sun: Oct 10, 17, 24
3 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Mon, Oct 25 & Tue Oct 26
Wed, Thurs, Fri: Oct 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. (Fridays open to 10 p.m.)

Ghost House Admission: $3
Game Tickets: $0.25 each
Group & Pre-sale: (925) 846-3492 or (510) 792-0207
General information: (510) 796-0595.

Students 12 years or older, or in Junior High, may sign up to work at the Ghost House. Sign-up for the games, plus fairies and witches is Saturday, Oct 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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