UNION — Each October, it takes approximately one dozen volunteers to create the spooky set pieces and props to transform the Union Fairgrounds into an annual outdoor “frightgrounds” of the Trail of Terror.
For many of the volunteers working a full work week, the time they can allot to the project is after work and on weekends. Imagine then, how they felt on Oct 11, to discover that the majority of their hard work was destroyed by a vandal or vandals during the night. Light fixtures were smashed, tents had been torn down and thrown over the fence, horror movie sets that had been custom-built and hand-painted were destroyed, and vile graffiti had been scrawled on some of the sets.
Police are currently handling the investigation, but that was little comfort to the people who surveyed the extensive damage.
“It was very discouraging,” said Erica Harriman, who coordinates the volunteers. “We had to decide whether we were going to continue on or not. When somebody wrecks all of your hard work, you’re asking yourself ‘How much more of my time am I going to put into this? Are they just going to come back and wreck it again?’”
When the organizers posted the damage on their Facebook page, one commenter asked about security.
“We have a caretaker, but they used the back entrance to get in and the damage was done on the far side of the grounds from his house,” said Stacie Mariano, one of the volunteers. “The grounds are usually left open for the community to use in the off season. Many people use the grounds to take their children to ride their bikes, people walk the track and so on. However, after this we are in discussion on whether or not the grounds needs to be closed up in the off season.”
This the second year the Trail of Terror has been operating and families all over the Midcoast look forward to walking through the haunted trail every year. Despite the added pressure, the volunteers all decided the show must go on.
“We’re rebuilding and getting it all cleaned up,” said Harriman. “We just had a crew come in over this past weekend and reconstruct a bunch of the decorations and lights, but the vandalism set us back a week and we’ve got only four days to get everything back the way it was. Hopefully we’ll have everything done by opening night Friday at 6 p.m. We are determined not to let this get us down and come back better than ever!”
Harriman added that they still have a great need for help and that any volunteers who want to help with the rebuild (or who’d make great monsters, ghouls and things that go bump in the night) should get in touch with her at 785-3044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trail of Terror runs weekends on October 20, 21, 27, 28, 30, and 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com