Peters Township Parks and Recreation already is planning ahead for Halloween.

Volunteers have begun meeting in preparation for “Haunted Trail XX: Walk Into the Darkness,” the early October event at Peterswood Park celebrating two decades of the annual kickoff to the spooky season.

“We went back over the last 10 years’ worth of haunted trails and pulled out the ‘best of,’” said Michele Harmel, parks and recreation director. “It’s going to be a compilation of some of our favorite themes. It’s a little bit of everything.”

Each year’s event features a plot, as related by volunteer storytellers who guide guests along the trail. Harmel and her staff don’t want to give too much of the story away in advance.

“There are definitely going to be zombies and creepy-crawlies, things that go bump in the night,” she said. “Be prepared to jump.”

Populating the trail are scene actors, folks who enjoy giving others a good scare. And they receive help with their costumes from students in Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program at Douglas Education Center in Monessen.

“We started doing that a couple of years ago, and it’s been really good working with them,” recreation supervisor Lisa Morris said. “We have a lot of kids who come in and might know how to do their makeup, and we can guide them.”

Haunted Trail XX is scheduled from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5, recommended for adults and children ages 9 and older. A not-as-scary event for those who are younger will take place from 6 to 6:30 p.m. the second day.

Admission is $5 per person.

“We’re hopeful just to break even,” Harmel said. “It’s not a moneymaking endeavor. It’s more of a service for the community.”

Last year, the Haunted Trail drew more than 1,800 people.

“Our participation continues to grow,” Harmel said. “I think some of it has to do with the popularity of Halloween. I think some of it has to do with our trail becoming more well-known, because people enjoy it. And when people enjoy things, they bring friends.”

The same goes for the corps of volunteers, for which new additions are welcome.

“We’re not putting money into hiring professionals. It’s really the community coming together to help out,” Morris said.

And that goes for the extended community. Anyone is welcome to volunteer for or take part in the Haunted Trail, not just Peters Township residents.

Volunteers must be 13 or older, and with regard to storytellers, high school through adult. Meetings are scheduled for Sept. 17 and 24, and a walk-through is Oct. 1 to get everything ready to go for Haunted Trail weekend.

“At the end of the trail, they get to take a hayride back to the recreation center,” Harmel said.

Food trucks will be stationed at the recreation center for folks who have worked up an appetite.

Harmel said the whole experience is intended to be fun as much as it is frightening.

“We feel this is a good starting haunted event,” she said.

Also for the Halloween season, Peters Township Parks and Recreation is hosting Spooky Movie Night, featuring Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” at dusk Oct. 11 at Peterwood Park amphitheater. The annual Trick-or-Treat Trail, for children 10 and younger, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Oct. 19 at the community recreation center, with lineup starting at 12:45. Both events are free.

To volunteer for “Haunted Trail XX: Walk Into the Darkness” and/or register for the Trick-or-Treat Trail, contact Lisa Morris at 724-942-5000 or

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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