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Haunted hang-outs: Area communities to host a variety of Halloween-themed events this month

Come next weekend, locals in the Osage area might possibly be heard to sing, "If you go out in the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise" — and it's definitely not going to be a bunch of teddy bears having a picnic. The wooded trails of the Smokey Hills Wilderness Retreat will be the setting for the first-ever "Forest of Fear," a guided tour that will include stops at various "haunted" locales to hear their frightening tales of woe, as well as a few scary moments of the more heart-stopping variety.

"We're still playing around with some ideas," says Smokey Hills' Olivia Niday, who opted work inside the bar instead of the woods that night because, as she put it, "it's a little too spooky for me."

"We're going to be having a vampire bar called Fangs, where people can sit and get a drink while they're waiting for the tour, or just hang out if the tour sounds too scary," she said, adding that the waiters and waitresses will be wearing costumes in keeping with the bar's vampiric theme.

"We will keep the bar open during the same hours we have the trail open," Niday added.

"Forest of Fear" tours will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 20-22, as well as the following Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29. Cost to take the tour is $10 for adults and $5 for all kids age 12 and under — though if you go on opening night, Oct. 20, there will be an "MEA Weekend Special" where all participants are admitted for $5 each.

Niday said that the "Forest of Fear" was the brainchild of Smokey Hills' new owner, Shannon Malzahn, who hopes to make the Halloween spook-tacular an annual event.

"She might change up the theme next year," Niday said, "but she wants to make it a tradition."

For more information, please call the Smokey Hills Wilderness Retreat office at 218-573-2999.

A few miles down the road from the rural Osage retreat, in the village of Pine Point, the old school building will once again play host to some "ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties" on two succeeding Saturdays, Oct. 22 and 29.

The Pine Point "Haunted School" will be open from 7 to 9 p.m. on each night, and admission is just $5 per person. All proceeds will benefit the Pine Point Powwow Committee. Call organizer Mike Swan at 218-573-2154 for more information.

Another school-based event will be held on Friday, Oct. 28 at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School in Audubon. According to event coordinator Bob Henderson, the halls of the school building will be transformed into a "Slaughterhouse of Horror" for the one-night-only event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

"Think of the scariest kind of butcher shop you could imagine, and that's what we're going to do," said Henderson, adding that there will be "multiple levels of scare available, from G-rated all the way up to R."

While there will be plenty of "blood and gore" present, Henderson cautioned, anyone who gets too scared will be escorted from the tour back to the lobby upon request.

"There's a guide with them the entire time," he said, so all activities will be supervised.

Co-hosted by the LP-A High School Student Council and LP-A Robotics team, the event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $10 for the first tour, and $5 for subsequent trips through the "slaughterhouse."

Back in Detroit Lakes, the library will be hosting an especially "haunting" event on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 4 to 5 p.m. "Minnesota's Stately Spirits: Stories, Legends & Tales from Haunted Places" is an interactive theater experience where teens and adults can learn more about some of the state's most renowned haunted places and experience strange phenomena these places seem to share, with artifacts that have been retrieved from the original sites. Call the library at 218-847-2168 for more information.

The Washington Square Mall in Detroit Lakes will be hosting two events, the "Halloween Hoot Party" on Saturday, Oct. 29 from noon to 2 p.m., and a Halloween Trick-or-Treat on Monday, Oct. 31 from 4 to 7 p.m. Both are free and open to the public. Call the mall office at 218-847-1679 for more information.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454