… okay, no banshees, but there were zombies.
Saturday night, I headed out to Markoff’s Haunted Forest, one of the best Haunted Forests on the East Coast, to support Cousin John Band, a local Americana/Rock/Blues band that’s fairly awesome (find them on Facebook!) and has done some sweet projects. My other draw, was that another friend of mine was working the forest, complete with zombie queen makeup and dress. Even with all this awesomeness, I almost didn’t make it to the show: I had been napping in bed and when my friends who I had invited ended up not being able to make it, the thought of crawling out of my comfy purple nest just didn’t appeal. However, I had committed to going to both of my friends, and so I dragged myself out to face the night.
I knew as I drove, that I’d made the correct choice, based on the beauty of the moon; it was a real doozy Saturday night–beautiful, almost full, and surrounded by a halo. The forest is out in the middle of nowhere, and as the lights vanished, the ability to see the stars increased.
Fast forward to arrival.
The entrance to Markoff’s was lit and eerie and there were cars backed up. That’s how I knew I was at the right place. Park, lock cars, pack keyfob and cash into clothes and then I was ready! The field was completely packed with cars, and as I walked up, I asked a police officer where to go if I were just going to watch the band, and not actually walk the Trail. He pointed me past the throngs of teens and I got to walk straight through, no lines, no nothing.
My friend works the ticket line, and so I had a chance to say hello to her as I passed. She was perfect: tiara, dress, blood on her face, and sparkly dust. Just right for a zombie. If you’ve never been to Markoff’s Haunted Forest, you can’t imagine what it’s like once you enter: it’s a full sensory experience in the bonfire area.
There was: (thousands) of people, some in costume; scents of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, donuts, and funnel cakes; 3 or 4 gigantic bonfires that span about 20-30 feet in diameter; rocking music from the Cousin John Band; glow sticks circling arms and necks. Oh, and did I mention that as I drove into the parking area, I could hear the screams from the trails? Yup, that’s right. I could hear them. So, sensory overload, combined with a smidge of self-pity, because here I was, out by myself, without any close friends. Really, I was outside of what made me comfortable–no close friends, I was overtired, and I was hungry.
Hungry I could remedy easily: I bought a cheeseburger and a set of donuts from the concession stand. The cheeseburgers came from cows that they’d slaughtered on the farm. The meat was amazing. I sat down on a log bench, to savor the donuts. The bench bordered a bonfire, and I was strategically placed so that I could see my friends in the band, as they rocked out. I saw these little kids, who were maybe 7 or 8. They had on white lab coats, smeared with blood, and one was carrying a mask of a shrunken head. As they passed me, one of the kids shoved the mask up in my face and shook it. Gross. Where were their parents? Or, were they actors, working the bonfire area. I couldn’t tell–and I wasn’t sure which was more disturbing.
I would find out the answer to my question before the night was over!