Quietly sitting on a parking berm in a pool of light cast by a streetlight, Jasmine Foster, 7, and her brother Cristian, 13, waited for their family by the exit of the Haunted House at the OxBow.
“I don’t want to go in,” said Jasmine, dressed as a pirate. “Last year, my dad and uncle came out laughing. We went out the door we came in. All the dudes in the mummy thing kept telling me ‘Shhhh! It’s OK,” she said.
“She wouldn’t stop screaming,” said Cristian. “I got scared because a guy on a piano seat jumped right up in my face. His face was right next to mine. It scared me to death!” he said with the light shining off his glasses as he remembered how frightened he felt.
Their story must be the reason this year the Haunted House had a “G” rated tour for the little kids and an “XS” (extra scary) version of the tour for the bigger kids.
Suddenly, screams came from inside the saloon.
“That would be my cousin,” said Jasmine.
Tearing out of the exit, Lillie Mercer, 12, dressed as Wonder Woman, ran out with her family in tow. Her screams seemed to be more for show than fear, because she actually enjoyed the experience.
“It was pretty cool — like how they screamed,” she said.
The Payson High School drama students outdid themselves with their makeup this year. Everyone, Mercer included, talked about the tall zombie with the black tongue sticking out down to his chin.
For the XS version of the tour, the student actors eaten by zombies writhed and screamed, bucking every time a bite got taken out of their skin. By the jail cell, desperate zombies moaned and peered out from the bars as they tried to attack passing visitors. Some guests screamed throughout the tour, rushing through to the exit, heart pumping as one last scream escaped their lips — as in Mercer’s case.
The Haunted House topped the list of the events at the annual Trunk or Treat party put on by the Town of Payson. Outside the Haunted House, a DJ spun tunes that made the attendees do a little jig in the street, despite the chill in the air.
Businesses lined the street, their owners dressed in costumes to give out candy to those 12 and under. The community party atmosphere on Main Street reminded everyone of the benefits of living in a small town.
Families stopped to say “Hi,” admiring choices in costumes.
Dogs dressed as cowboys or wearing smart jackets walked with their human companions.
The only shadow over the event came from the fact that Halloween fell on a school night. This affected the size of the crowds at the Haunted House and Trunk or Treat event, but not the creativity of partygoers.
With only two and a half hours before the Halloween Trunk or Treat, Tim Wallace, his brother, Taylor, and their friends, Ryland Wala, Shel Stuart and Brett Royer, dreamed up the idea of dressing up as Tetris blocks (as in the computer game).
“Tim and Brett created the idea. We got supplies from Home Depot — boxes, tape and paint,” said Stuart.
The result resembled a long line of Rubics cube blocks perfectly fitted together. The group proved a costume doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to make an impact. With the width of their costume, the group took up half the street when they walked in formation.
Mic Wolf, his wife, Jackie, their four children and dog, Taco, rode bikes to the Trunk or Treat. They called Taco a sled dog and they were a sledding family.
“Austin, 3, and Logan, 5, will go through the Haunted House with their dad,” said Jackie.
“They did it last year, but Austin might chicken out this year. Logan loved it last time, but he asked me if the people were real.”
Nearby, Austin, dressed as Batman’s sidekick, Robin, and Logan, dressed as a policeman, took the opportunity to wrestle on the ground as their parents chatted.
“They only do that when their father is around,” said Jackie, as Wolf ordered them apart. Taco had more interest in meeting other dogs.
By 8 p.m., the small children lined up for candy had disappeared, most going home to bed, while the line for the Haunted House started turning around a bend. High school kids wandered the streets, meeting in groups to admire costumes and chat with friends.
The air took a dip into bitter cold as middle-schoolers Elizabeth Hewitt and Sabrina Bonn started wandering off into the night to get a good enough night’s sleep for school the next day.
“My grandpa said it’s time to go home,” said Hewitt.