Haunted Woods raises funds for domestic abuse programs
Ghouls hang in the woods at the Haunted Woods event, which is set to take place in Murray Park on Oct. 24 to 26. (Sheri Van Bibber/Murray Exchange Club)
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The Haunted Woods has served as a Halloween tradition in Murray for more than 35 years raising funds for those in need. And 2016 is no different.
On Oct. 24, 25 and 26, Murray Park will serve as the venue for the annual Haunted Woods, a spook alley set up through a section of the park. Tickets are $5 and all proceeds go to groups dedicated to fighting child abuse and domestic violence. Funds raised from the 2015 event were donated to Taylorsville Family Services, Midvale Family Center, South Valley Sanctuary, the youth homeless shelter and the Victim Advocates program of Murray.
“It’s amazing to be able to help these groups…and we hope [people knowing] that the funds go to prevent child abuse and domestic violence will help increase the support,” Sheri Van Bibber, event organizer, said. Bibber said they will also be collecting warm clothing donations for them to take to the homeless downtown.
The financial help provided comes via one of the most popular holidays of the year. Bibber told a story about a family who was able to be taken out of their home and placed in a hotel until further resources were available as a result of their donation to the Victim Advocates.
“Just knowing we could do a little something like that was wonderful,” Bibber said.
Between 800 and 1,200 people from the Salt Lake Valley walk through the Haunted Woods each night it’s open. The 2016 version of the event will see two spooky trails created, one for the younger kids and the other for older kids seeking a scare.
A volunteer-run event, the Haunted Woods has anywhere from 100 to 125 volunteers helping in everything from setting up the trail with presentations to serving doughnuts and hot chocolate at the end.
“It’s a tough gig, but it’s a great feeling to run it,” Bibber said.
With the spook alley in a park, Bibber said the design of the trail requires a lot of imagination. Paper plates are taped to trees to give them eyes while all sorts of old equipment from Murray’s Parks and Recreation Department is used. One of the volunteers has provided a light and sound show to elevate the event’s quality.
Besides the spook alley, there will also be food trucks, face painting, a magician, and the Miss Murray and attendees will be dressed as princesses sprinkling protective fairy dust on people waiting in line. Neon light necklaces will be sold with those proceeds included in the donated funds. A scarecrow and pumpkin carving contest will also be held where people can bring them to the parks and recreation office before the event with winners being awarded family passes.
Bibber said they’re always looking for new ideas to implement. This year will see high school clubs acting in various scenes as visitors walk through the woods. The youth excel club and the youth city government are also involved in helping to run the event.
“We have kids from all over the place participating because they all see the vision in what it is,” Bibber said. “The kids have a big voice in what goes on in this.”
Bibber also said they look for any business sponsors to get involved like the Mutual of Enumclaw and Statewide Insurance who will be offering $750 scholarships.
The Murray Exchange Club and the Murray Chamber of Commerce have been organizing the Haunted Woods for 16 years now. Originally it was run by Murray’s Parks and Recreation employees before funding was cut leading to the Exchange Club and the Chamber of Commerce taking over.
Bibber has been involved for 16 years, it’s something she loves.
“I think I’ve loved Halloween since I was born,” Bibber said. “I used to do this at my house growing up and I was an only child so I had no one to do it with and now I have a whole city to do it with.”