NEW PALESTINE — The woods just to the west of Doe Creek Middle School might seem an ideal setting for a walk on a cool fall night. The path takes walkers into nature with plenty of tall trees and thick foliage blocking the nearby community from view.
Come Halloween time, though, travelers should take care, students warn — ghosts and ghouls haunt that trail after the sun goes down.
The sixth annual Doe Creek Middle School Haunted Trail will be up and running for two days this Halloween season with the help of some 100 students manning stations along the path — and the frights are all for a good cause. The local Halloween attraction, run by student volunteers wearing all manner of ghoulish makeup to set the scene, benefits two charities this year: Riley Hospital for Children and Salvation Army.
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The haunted trail, located in the woods west of the middle school, 5613 W. County Road 200S, is open for patrons from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Cost is $5 per person with a friendly hour for small children (or easily spooked adults) from 5 to 6 p.m. each night.
The haunted trail has become something of a tradition for students, many of whom grow up hearing about what it’s like to participate from older siblings.
And teachers and staff members are in on the fun, too.
“There’s nothing quite like running through the woods screaming at each other around Halloween time,” Doe Creek Middle School teacher Lisa Clouse said.
She and fellow teacher John Alter are organizing the event with the students. Clouse said it’s always a joy to see how enthusiastic the students get during the event. Many have elaborate costumes and makeup and take the art of the scare very seriously.
It’s not just dressing up and scaring people that makes this a fun after-school project for the students, Clouse said. They youngsters spend weeks on end, planning, preparing and staging the haunt, and they get to know their hard work benefits people in need.
Proceeds from the trail have gone to a variety of causes over the years, including Prevent Child Abuse America and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals.
The seventh- and eighth-graders are responsible for everything from using social media to advertise the event to coming up with ways to scare people and clean up the trail when it’s over.
Eighth-grader Madyson Ebert has her costume all prepared; she plans to dress up as a cracked doll, with marks across her face.
She enjoys the role-reversal the event brings the young participants.
“Usually, it’s fun to be scared, but it’s also fun to scare people,” she said.
There’s an educational bent to the effort, too, with students using apps to map out their haunt sections of the trail and design what their characters will look like, organizers said.
With dark eye shadow spread around her eyes and fake blood on her face and gown, eighth-grader Jesi Hall tried out her costume on a recent afternoon.
She likes the idea of having fun but also raising money for charity, she said.
“It makes me feel warm-hearted, but it’s definitely a thrill of a lifetime, getting the chance to scare people,” Jesi said.
Last year’s haunt raised just over $3,000, despite one night full of rain.
When the event is over, Clouse and the students will discuss how the money raised will be used to benefit real-life situations.
The event has become a huge happening at the school and in the community, attracting people from all over the county and Indianapolis, Clouse said.
Doe Creek Middle School Haunted Trail
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: The woods just west of Doe Creek Middle School, 5613 W. County Road 200S
Cost: $5 per person; proceeds benefit Riley Hospital for Children and the Salvation Army.
Towns and cities across Hancock County have announced trick-or-treat hours for Halloween 2016.
In Greenfield and Fortville, hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.
The town of McCordsville’s trick-or-treat hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
New Palestine families can pass out candy from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31.
Neighborhoods outside city or town limits should keep to the county’s official 5 to 8 p.m. trick-or-treat hours, officials said.