The ride was already spooky – guided by a ghost host who kept things morbidly interesting. But ever so slightly, patrons could feel the carriage start to quicken. In the dark abyss, a figure suddenly emerges. This figure appears to be a pumpkin galloping on a horse. Sure enough, the Headless Horsewoman comes charging at the carriage. The patrons scream, the ride speeds up, and the horse gallops even faster. And just like that, the Headless Horsewoman disappears, only to torment the next group of patrons 10 minutes later.
So went this year’s Haunted Hayride, hosted by the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District (BI Parks) at Battle Point Park. The sold-out event occurred October 21-23 from 6-9 p.m. This annual family-friendly Halloween event included Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance, glow stick dancers, ghosts, skeletons, face painting, games, prizes and plenty of carved pumpkins. Four-hundred-and-fifty carved pumpkins, to be exact. These beauties, which lined Battle Point Park, took staff and an army of volunteers, including the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts, an entire weekend to carve.
Currents Online spoke with Ashley Miller, Recreation Program
Manager of BI Parks, about the mammoth task of putting on this annual event for
the fifth year.
“Last year I went on a ride and heard a kid say, ‘Oh, I know what’s coming up now,’ and I thought, ‘Well, we have to get them next year,’” said Miller.
And that’s exactly what they did.
They added a mermaid cove and put it near the gazebo by the
pond. This was intended to add a little lightheartedness to the ride. The
mermaids achieved this, gently waving at younger patrons as they rode by.
This year the ride included the transmitter loop that runs
in front of the transmitter building. And to enhance the fun, many more
skeletons were added. In the middle of the transmitter loop, patrons could see
a skeleton crew working in the yard with lawnmowers and undertaking different
yard work. Miller said they hoped patrons would think, “At night, the crew gets
extra help from a skeletal team at Battle Point Park. Do they get paid
overtime?” Another skeleton could be found at the pond in a canoe, holding a
lantern and hopelessly fishing in the dark.
But the big ticket items? The dance performances.
““Thriller” stays the same, thanks to the generosity of Jillian Bateman with the Young Life club,” said Miller. “She gives free lessons on how to do the “Thriller” dance through classes at Island Fitness.”
In years past, the dancing “Thriller” zombies would perform
last, but this year they were first. Along with these dancers were the
scarecrow dance girl’s group that performed their choreography to Billie
Eilish’s “Bury a Friend.” Also making a comeback were the glow stick dancers comprised
of the Bainbridge Island High School cheer squad. After the dance, they ran up the trails and
scared the patrons.
“They love it, we love it, and the people also love it,”
No good ride would be complete without a monster. This ride
doesn’t disappoint. A couple of years ago, park service employees engineered an
electronic monster to rise out of the pond. It spouts water, has glowing red
eyes and is a definite crowd pleaser.
BattlePoint.dragon from Arthur Humm on Vimeo.
This event would not be possible without the BI Parks staff –
over 75 volunteers that show up three nights in a row, on a school night. This
year was particularly challenging because Monday night was cold and rainy with
30 mph gusts that took down a tent. Miller wasn’t sure if people would show up.
“Everyone showed up,” she said. “Volunteers came through and
everyone rallied together to make it happen, and it went off without a hitch.”
The people showed up – over 1,800 of them. The countless volunteers showed up. As did the park district staff, including Jeanni Lunde (the Headless Horsewoman), fulfilling their mission to “provide fun, family-friendly options for families on the island.” Miller said that all of their events have one aim – to give back to the community – because BI Parks receives so much from islanders.
“The joy you see on people’s faces and hear them exclaim,
‘That was so cool!’ – that’s what makes it rewarding.”
Come and enjoy all the Halloween festivities tonight – downtown Winslow Trick or Treat and others. For a full list of all events, check out the ‘What’s Happening’ tab on Currents Online.