WALLINGFORD — As the fall season settles in, so do local haunts. One of the first to open is the Trail of Terror, which celebrates a 25 year milestone this year. Here are five things to know before you visit.
The trail opens on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 60 N. Plains Highway and runs through the month of October.1.Twenty-five years of scares
Trail of Terror started as a fun backyard activity for Wayne Barneschi and his family about 28 years ago. The seasonal activity gained popularity and officially became the Trail of Terror 25 years ago, starting off on a lot on Route 5.
“How we started was just something fun to do with a bunch of people, we all loved Halloween, we loved to build scenes and sets and costumes and characters and all kinds of stuff,” Barneschi said.
The trail has zigzagged through about two acres of woods between the Polish National Alliance Park for about 15 years.
Every year the team reconstructs about 70 percent of the trail, re-imagining spaces and bringing new life to props. Among other things, this year includes a new crypt scene with newly carved foam pieces.
“We love that you’re creating something new every year,” Barneschi said. 2.Back in time
To commemorate 25 years, this year’s theme is “time machine” to take people back to some scenes from past trail years.
“We’re kind of bringing ourselves back to the early days and some of the older scenes we're bringing back, some of the favorite scenes,” Barneschi said.
Barneschi said there’s a Frankenstein scene making a return, but wanted to keep the others secret.
Last year’s theme was “phobias,” with inspiration from vintage Halloween concepts and movies.3.Donations to local groups
Over the years Trail of Terror has donated almost $2 million to local charities and organizations.
“It’s the way we started, right from day one,” Barneschi said. “We wanted to do it for the community.”
Some of the groups that have received past donations include Wallingford’s Holiday for Giving, the Antique Veterans, the Fire Department and the Preservation Trust, as well as Companions in Crisis, Meriden NOW Shelter and U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Edison Division.
Each year’s recipients are announced during an end-of-season gala for the volunteers. Barneschi said they have a team that researches where in the community extra funding is most needed. 4.What to expect
Between 150 and 180 volunteers show up every night to act out various scenes throughout the trail, helped by around 12 makeup artists and costume designers.
The team guides visitors through each portion of the roughly hour-long experience.
“We try to make it an experience to where they come here and it’s unlikely anything they’ve ever seen before,” Barneschi said. “It's a safe environment, but it's also edgy.”
You won't only get blood and gore on the trail, but scenes meant to make you uncomfortable through all kinds of fears. 5.Tickets/season
Timed tickets are available on the Trail of Terror website. The trail is open from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27.
Parking is available at Polish National Alliance Park, 171 N. Plains Industrial Road.