By MATTHEW SOCKOL
For anyone in the Halloween spirit or who just enjoys a good thrill, there is no shortage of haunted attractions in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
In Middlesex County, the eighth-grade students of the Joyce Kilmer School in Milltown are presenting the school’s annual Joyce Kilmer Haunted River Walk. Entitled “Haunted Disney,” the attraction brings guests through a trail on the Mill Pond Path, located at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Main Street.
“The Haunted River Walk has become a tradition in our small town,” said Angie Ramadan, the co-chair of the Haunted River Walk. “It’s a walk in the dark, through an almost half-mile, creepy wooded path alongside the Milltown Pond. You’ll be scared and entertained as you walk through and stop to watch the small performances put on by the graduating Class of 2017.
“Our community is very proud of the kids and parents that spend half their summer creating scripts, sets and costumes to make this event a success.”
The Haunted River Walk will take place on Oct. 28 and 29 from 7-9:30 p.m. In case of rain, guests can attend the attraction on Oct. 30. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and $4 for seniors.
Proceeds will be used to help cover the costs of the students’ trip to YMCA Camp Mason in Hardwick Township.
In East Brunswick, the 4-H Teen Council is sponsoring the House of Horrors at the 4-H Center, 645 Cranbury Rd., on Oct. 28 and 29 from 7-11 p.m. Featuring a haunted house and a haunted hayride, admission is $5 for each attraction or $8 for both. For younger guests, there will be pumpkin decorating and remote-control car demonstrations.
According to a press release provided by the Middlesex County Office of Communication, the proceeds of the haunted attractions will be used to fund Project GIFT, which provides limited-resource families with gifts in December.
“This event is a favorite with the 4-H Teen Council. They enjoy planning the event, and our residents have come to look forward to it as well,” Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood said in the press release. “For those who enjoy the scary side of Halloween, this is a great way to celebrate and to give back to others by contributing to Project GIFT.”
The Cub Scouts of Pack 67 and the Boy Scouts of Troop 167 are running the Haunted Woods of Old Bridge, which will take guests through a backwoods path at the residence of Barbara Nyhus, 75 Springhill Rd. The attraction will run Oct. 28 and 29 from 7-10 p.m. and Oct. 30 from 7-9:30 p.m. Each day, guests can also travel through the path when the attraction’s actors are not present from 3:30-6 p.m.
“The Haunted Woods is an event that started as a small trail set up by my oldest son when he was 13 as a Boy Scout Family Life merit badge project,” Nyhus said. “Over the years, it has grown into a huge event that takes months to set up.
“I love the fact that so many of our friends come back from wherever they are to act in the woods and help out. It is truly a community event.”
The Haunted Woods is free of charge, but guests are asked to donate a nonperishable food item to attend the attraction. The food donations will be sent to the Old Bridge Food Bank. Donations to the Old Bridge Animal Shelter will also be accepted.
“We have always kept it as a food drive because there is always a need for food at our local food bank,” Nyhus said. “Plus, the people like having an awesome attraction that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars for a family to go to and have a fun time.”
At the end of the attraction, the scouts will be selling baked goods, hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee and other beverages to guests. Proceeds from the bake sale will be used to benefit Pack 67 and Troop 167.
Along with Middlesex, Monmouth County is home to haunted attractions of its own.
Featured at the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College, 765 Newman Springs Road, is Haunted Theater, which takes place in the college’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) building.
The attraction runs on Oct. 28-30 from 7-10:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, Brookdale staff and alumni, $8 for guests under 17 and $5 for current Brookdale students with ID. For younger guests, Haunted Theater has scare-free kids tours, which run on Oct. 29 and 30 from 2-4 p.m. and have an admission price of $5.
“I think what makes Haunted Theater appealing is that it changes from year to year,” PAC Supervisor Sherri Vanderspiegel said. “It’s never the same. There’s a different theme and different rooms that are all designed, built, run and acted by current Brookdale students and alumni.”
Holmdel’s A. Casola Farms, located at 178 Route 34, is the host to the House of Horrors, the Haunted Hayride, the Corn Walk of Terror and the Travis County Junkyard. Only the House of Horrors can be viewed individually; the other attractions are interconnected.
The four events run on Oct. 28-30 from 7-10 p.m. Admission is $8 for the House of Horrors, $20 for the Haunted Hayride and the Corn Walk of Terror, $25 for the house, hayride and corn walk and $30 for all four attractions.
“It’s a good night out,” said Chris Casola, who runs the attractions. “It’s a social event for friends and families who can get a thrill out of the experience. And people love Halloween during this time of year.”
C. Casola Farms in Marlboro, which is at 131 S. Main St., is home to five attractions: the on-foot 3-D Haunted Barn, Haunted Wooded Trail and Living Maze and the vehicular Haunted Hayride of Terror and Marlboro Zombie Breakout. The Marlboro Zombie Breakout, the farm’s newest attraction, allows guests to shoot at zombies with paintball guns.
The five events run on Oct. 28-31 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale from 6:30-11 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29 and 6:30-10 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31. Admission is $25 for the Marlboro Zombie Breakout, $15 for the Haunted Hayride of Terror and $12 for the 3-D Haunted Barn, Haunted Wooded Trail and Living Maze. The Marlboro Zombie Breakout provides guests with 125 paintball rounds, and an additional 75 rounds can be purchased for $10.
Tickets for the hayride, barn, trail and maze can be purchased together for $40, and tickets for all five attractions can be purchased for $60. Guests may purchase VIP tickets for the hayride, barn, trail and maze for $55, which allow them to bypass lines.
For residents living in or near Ocean County, Jackson is home to two haunted features: Dracula’s Domain and Nightmare at Gravity Hill.
Dracula’s Domain, which is located at 569 Monmouth Rd., holds three attractions: Haunted Hayride, the Psycho Path and the Dead End Corn Maze. The event runs on Oct. 28 and 29 from 7-11 p.m. and on Oct. 30 from 7-10 p.m. Tickets for each individual attraction are $15. Guests may attend two of the attractions for $25 or all three for $30.
“Every year, we have something new,” Dracula’s Domain manager Victoria Fairchild said. “We’re always changing it up. We change our scenes and we add new things that you don’t always see on hayrides. Everyone seems to enjoy it and they have a good time.”
Nightmare at Gravity Hill is held at Cicconi Farms, 1005 Farmingdale Rd., and takes guests through an on-foot trail. The attraction runs Oct. 28 and 29 from 7-11 p.m. and Oct. 30 from 7-9 p.m. Admission is $20.
“Our scenes are very elaborate,” said Al Cicconi, the co-owner of Cicconi Farms and Nightmare at Gravity Hill. “We put a lot through the construction process and they’re like theatrical sets. And we try to appeal to all of your senses. Between the fog, lighting and sound, we throw a lot at you.”