Taneytown's 'Haunted Barn' being readied Jaycees predict unpredictable fun NORTHWEST -- Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown

October 08, 1992|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Some people may figure that since Taneytown's famous Haunted Barn is in its 16th year, the attraction will be about as predictable as another installment of the "Friday the 13th" horror movies.

Guess again.

And again.

This year's event is full of surprises.

"The well-known ghouls will still be around," said Jeff Brauning, president of the Taneytown Jaycees, who sponsor the yearly event. "Some will pop out to scare you, but we have a few secrets that will surprise even those people who think they know it all."

"There will plenty of monsters around for everybody," said Mr. Brauning.

If the ghouls and goblins were all that patrons got see when they visited the barn, perhaps the attraction wouldn't be worth the $5 admission. And perhaps people wouldn't come from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington and Virginia to see it.

But Mr. Brauning and his creative crew have more up their sleeves than rubber "fall-away" arms splattered with phony blood.

They've got a game plan and a guest list that would make Dracula take a day job.

"Freddy's invitation has not yet been answered, but we expect him to be with us for our run," said Mr. Brauning, referring to Freddy Krueger, the striped-shirted, steel-fingernailed demon who has invaded the dreams of suburban teens in five feature films.

Mr. Hyde -- the demented alter-ego of Dr. Jekyll -- has committed, Mr. Brauning confirmed. And Bigfoot has accepted as well.

"Quite a few 'dead' -- as in 'Dawn of the . . . ' -- will be on hand, too," Mr. Brauning said. "Maybe next year we can get a projector and the Ghostbusters' 'Slimer' can make an appearance."

The attraction also features a mad scientist's lab, a graveyard and a "hall of walls" -- once you get in, you'll have a tough time getting out.

The flashing strobe light bouncing off misshapen black-and-white tiles in another attraction makes it almost impossible to find the door.

And a few new rooms -- including one that is absolutely heavenly -- will make you feel the chills that only a really good scare can provide.

"This is the first year we sent out to different companies to get fog machines, authentic makeup," Mr Brauning said. "We went way out to make this event even more scary and suspense-filled than it has been in the past."

The barn's past is illuminated by the bright smiles of children and adults. But a fire that destroyed its former home on Trevanion Road the week before it was scheduled to open in 1986 almost put an end to the Taneytown tradition.

However, within a year, the Jaycees renovated the vacant building on Warehouse Alley, where the feature now sits -- and the weirdest, scariest, most delightful things have been happening there each Halloween season since.

"We do it more or less for the community to have something to do on Halloween," Mr. Brauning said. "We have some people who come to it five or six times during the season."

The community benefits most from the event, even in the proceeds. Groups such as Brownie Troop 171 and people in need, such as victims of Hurricane Andrew, are among those slated to benefit financially from this year's event.

Other Jaycees groups around Maryland also pitch in, working the concession stand or helping with set-up, tickets and closing.

Mr. Brauning said the haunted house is something everyone likes to get involved in. In the past few weekends, he said, people from Baltimore have been coming to the barn to ask when it would open.

"About 9,633 people came through the barn for the 18 nights it ran last year," Mr. Brauning said. "This year it is 20 nights. We hope to get more people."

The Jaycees also will feature special discount and giveaway nights. During the children's matinee Oct. 24, kids in costume will get a free pumpkin. Patrons attending the barn's season opener, at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, can get in for $2.

"People who have been here before figure they understand everything here," Mr. Brauning said. "But even they will have questions after coming out on the other side."

They will know how it feels to walk into a room where, after being lulled by the hypnotic sound of water falling gently over rocks, they are suddenly accosted by Bigfoot -- a half-man, half-beast creature who looks as if his last meal went down the year the Berlin Wall went up.

But you won't know.

Until it's too late.

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