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Halloween hauntings return to Bonne Terre

Halloween hauntings return to Bonne Terre

TJ Isgrig hides among the animatronics collected for the annual "haunted" event he has spearheaded for the fire department six times before. Last year had been cancelled due to COVID-19.

Bonne Terre’s big-time Halloween celebration is back again this year.

The pandemic squelched last year’s haunted firehouse, overseen annually by Big River/Bonne Terre Firefighter TJ Isgrig. This year will be a bit different, in that it will be held at the Dairy Fields over by the old depot, instead of the old firehouse.

“We’re doing it in the back part of the ball fields, and along the walking trail behind the back ballfield,” he explained. “The Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce is doing a trick-or-treat in the parking lot, handing out hot dogs and small drinks, Friends for a Better Bonne Terre will be doing a chili cook-off and a costume contest, I think, and we’re doing the haunted trail.”

The fun starts on Oct. 30 and goes from 5-9 p.m. In addition to the Haunted Trail, free hot dogs and drinks, there’s the trunk-n-treat, pumpkin carving, costume contest, a movie on the field and a chance to win prizes.

For parents with children who have sensory issues – such as epilepsy or autism—a “sensory friendly” hour is scheduled from 5-6 p.m.

“We've had a lot of parents say their kids would love to go through something like that but they're autistic or seizure-prone or something, and the flashing lights, noises or smoke can cause a seizure or just a meltdown. I’ve read about this before, and we want it to be more inclusive, so we're gonna mellow it out from 5-6 p.m. We're not gonna have flashing lights, we'll have a little bit of smoke. We won’t have any big scares, and if the littler kids want to come through at that point, they can.

“Then, at six o'clock, all bets are off. We just got to open it up to whatever the actors along the trail want to bring.”

Halloween hauntings return to Bonne Terre

These are just a few of the many animatronics to be seen along Bonne Terre's Haunted Trail on Oct. 30, 5-9 p.m.

Isgrig said the trail would take about 15 minutes to get through, probably.

“We’re going to have a trail that goes back behind field three, which is the lowest field there, it has a little creek running along it. Then the trail will enter the back field where we’ll have a maze,” Isgrig said. “We’re thinking of putting together a scene involving campers on a bad camping trip. We’ve got a lot of ideas. We’re figuring out how much space we have, too, since we’ve never done it outside before.”

And having it outside involves a bit of risk, of course.

“If it rains, the Haunted Trail is cancelled,” he said. “I can’t take a risk with all the animatronics we’ve collected. As it is, it’s all going up on Saturday morning, and it’s all being torn back down after Saturday night. It’s a one-day thing.”

Halloween hauntings return to Bonne Terre

TJ Isgrig stands at what will be one of the "scare" places along the Haunted Trail in Bonne Terre at the baseball fields.

Isgrig said he has enjoyed each of the six previous “hauntings” he’s put together with help from dozens of friends and volunteers because he loves Halloween.

“I lived in the country, so we never got trick or treaters or anything, so we’d go into town to trick or treat. My grandparents lived at Hill and Shepard Street, near Church and Main (the town’s prime spot for trick-or-treating) so we would go visit them, Mom would drop us off and we’d do what we want,” he said. “My grandpa would decorate the house a little for the holiday and they’d hand out candy. When I got too old to trick or treat, I’d go there to hand out candy every year.

“Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I just love scaring people. Even if it’s not Halloween.”

Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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