Princesses, clowns, soldiers, superheros, fishermen and cowboys and more once again filled the campground of Wind Creek State Park.
The scares are so good, finding a camping spot is almost impossible. In fact next year’s Boo Fest has already filled Alabama State Parks’ reservation system for the park’s nearly 600 campsites. Veteran campers and scare enthusiasts know to plan early to keep a tradition of having fun in costume going.
“We have been coming out for the last 8 or 9 years for this,” New Site resident Terry Norwood said. “We have been adding to this haunted house every year. We decorate just for the little ones.”
Norwood joins his family and friends to provide what might be the biggest one day attraction at the park, a temporary haunted house. But Norwood doesn’t allow anyone in early.
“It needs to be dark,” Norwood said.
Until dark Norwood still has fun at the entrance to the B section of the campground. Norwood and others will get in costume standing as statues of clowns, ghosts and more. Children and adults alike will approach, knowing a scare could be on the way.
For some Norwood will stand stoically, especially for those taunting him for the scare. Then as they turn to walk away Norwood springs into action. With an air horn blaring, Norwood reaches for a now unsuspecting person. Screams quickly come, soon followed by laughs of Norwood and the scare victim.
Shane Wall has joined in the fun. Saturday before the haunted house Wall was dressed as a clown. Standing stoically at times and at others walking in pace just behind trick or treaters.
One teenager thought she couldn’t be scared because of the protection of a truck. Norwood and Wall were soon in the bed of the pickup with the victim screaming and shaking. They back off and Wall shakes the victim's hand.
“We have fun with it,” Wall said. “We probably have more fun than those seeking the scares.”
Trick or treaters approach Norwood’s campsite for treats before the haunted house opens at dark.
“We gave out more than 400 bags of candy last year in a little over an hour,” Wall said. ‘We have about 600 bags this year.”
Just over an hour again and the candy was gone.
But Norwood and Wall have even more fun with the haunted house that has grown over the years.
“The costume I had last year, this one kid about my son’s age, I stepped out and got punched twice,” Wall said. “I scared him that bad. We have a good time with it.”
This year’s costume is special, reminding him of a buddy, Marine Sgt. Stacy Green who died in Afghanistan. The costume was simple, Green’s Marine-issued gas mask and hood.
“It’s simple,” Wall said. “My dog got a sneak peak of it Thursday. He is about ready to be on valium.”
As dark approaches, a line starts to form. It's a scenario Norwood is familiar with as it has happened at his campsite at previous Boo Weekends and it’s not just the day of the haunted house.
“These kids have been coming by since Monday when I started,” Norwood said. “They are talking to me, asking me what’s in it. Telling me they have been looking forward to it every year. They know it gets better every year. We added two extra rooms this year.”
The extra rooms slow movement through the haunted house.
“In the past, they would get scared and run straight through,” Norwood said. “Now there is a zig zag. You are in there and have to find your way out.”
But Norwood and Wall aren’t out to scare everyone.
“We got some who think they aren’t scared,” Norwood said. “We have codes we call in. Others who are truly scared, we back off. We don’t try to scare everybody, just the ones who don’t think they can be.”
Boo Weekend just demonstrates what Norwood has come to know at Wind Creek State Park, no one leaves a stranger.
“We just enjoy the people here,” Norwood said. “You can walk to anybody you want to and ask for anything and they will help you.”
Boo Weekend isn’t the only reason Norwood comes to Wind Creek State Park.
“We come out here constantly,” Norwood said. “We spend numerous weekends here. This is our home away from home. This is how we get away from home. Every holiday that comes up, we come out. If it just looks like a pretty weekend, we come out.”