WOODRIDGE – For the past 26 years, Woodridge VFW Post 1578 has worked with the Woodridge Park District on its unique and spooky Haunted Forest Walk.
The Haunted Forest Walk’s 10 Halloween scenes for residents to venture through previously was operated solely by the VFW, according to Bob Reichert with the Woodridge VFW.
Today, VFW members only run one stop along the walk, allowing nine other organizations to join behind the scenes with the community event.
“It got to be too much but it was great that other groups came in [to help],” Reichert said. “We also provide security and we’re sort of the electronic wizards that distribute the cables and such so each scene gets their own electricity.”
The nine other groups working with Woodridge Park District include the Woodridge Junior Woman’s Club, Parent Teacher Organizations from local schools and various Boy Scout troops.
“I like it this way because it’s more people doing different scenes,” said Reichert, of Woodridge. “It opens up the creativity, too. You can funnel and focus all that energy into one scene.”
Each group picks the theme for its scene along the walking trail at Hawthorne Hill Woods.
“This year we’re doing a ‘hospit-hell’ scene with kind of a haunted doll house,” he said.
Another scene on the walk, run by Lisle Boy Scout Troop 108, will be similar to a madscientist’s lab, according to Assistant Scout Master Dan Grecco.
“It’s a Frankenstein kind of scene,” said Grecco, a Lisle resident. “[You’ll see] things from a mad scientist’s lab like body parts, lights, plasma balls, dark lights and a graveyard.”
Grecco said each scene along the trail is judged based on the group’s creative effort and how they go about scaring people, awarding prizes to the top three scenes.
“It gives everyone an incentive,” Reichert said. “But [the outcome] is hard to tell… I like the scene we’re going with, but I don’t know what the other nine are doing.”
Setting up for the Haunted Forest Walk begins Thursday, just a day before the opening night, according to Grecco. He said groups have two shifts to set up: All day Thursday and Friday morning.
“It’s a mad dash,” Grecco said. “You can really only work in the daylight, so at most maybe 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then we’ll have another six or seven hours the next day.”
Reichert said it’s really a close-knit operation.
“There are many things like this in all the communities, but this is the only one that is outside and walking through a forest,” Reichert said. “We have our advantages and disadvantages, but our’s is unique.”