Run for your life

Run for your life

Unspeakable horrors and ghouls await those who take part in the first Haunted Hill obstacle course and race on Oct. 19 at Diamond Hill Park.
Haunted Hill, race will highlight Halloween season

CUMBERLAND - Could you use an extra hand?

How about a foot, arm, skull or other dismembered body part?

You'll likely to find them swimming in a pool of (fake) blood at Haunted Hill's newest attraction, an obstacle course race.

But the obstacles that will be faced aren't the ordinary mud pits or stacked logs. Not at Haunted Hill.

Instead, participants will face the type of gore only Friday the 13th lovers can appreciate. And there will be live monsters giving chase as well, armed with machetes and chain saws.

It's called the Diamond Hill Challenge, and it will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, beginning at 9:30 a.m., when the first wave of brave souls bolts down the 5K course, complete with 13 "unlucky" obstacles. Additional waves will leave the starting line every 30 minutes.

Cost is $45 if registration is completed before Oct. 17, and $50 the day of the race, and prizes will be awarded to the top male and female finisher in each wave. Prizes will also be awarded for best costumes.

To register, go to www.runrhody.com .

"I've been wanting to do a race like this for a couple of years now," said Rich Vaillant, who choreographs Haunted Hill each year. "The course isn't easy because it goes up the hills of the park and through several of the Haunted Hill sets. But there will be plenty of incentive for people to go fast because the last thing they want to do is get caught by Leatherface or a killer Clown. They may never finish the race."

The 12th annual Haunted Hill beings on Friday, Sept. 27, from dusk to 10 p.m., and will be open every Friday and Saturday night at those times until Halloween. It will also be open on Sundays during Columbus Day weekend and Oct. 27. Cost is $15.

"And it's going to be spooktacular," said Vaillant. "We bought some new toys this year that we guarantee will add to the fright, and this is our biggest display ever."

For the past few months, a team of volunteers, most of them also doubling as actors during the Haunted Hill, have been building sets on park grounds.

After receiving concerns from an area resident that the sets might be encroaching on a watershed in violation of state regulations, Recreation Director Mike Crawley ordered the entire production moved a bit.

"There's a small pond in the park that has been created by beavers, and to make certain that we are within legal limits, we moved the display," said Crawley.

There have also been questions raised about safety, and Crawley assured that the town building inspector and fire officials thoroughly inspect the display every single season and any problems are immediately corrected. In addition, police and fire personnel are at the display in all of its operating hours.

"There is a question whether or not we're supposed to have building permits, but these are not permanent structures, so we don't believe that we do," said Crawley. "Plus we have the building inspector in to inspect. We've never had any incidents."

This year, there will be a record 15 different sets of screaming delight awaiting visitors, said Vaillant.

A new entrance has been constructed that has multiple doors.

"People will have three different ways of walking to their doom," said Vaillant. "We don't want to say what's on the other side of the doors, but it's going to make people scream."

Somewhere along the way, there's a Bates Motel where the murderous Michael Myers awaits his victims. There will be three sets involving the horrendous killer clowns, with ghouls springing out at unsuspecting visitors all along the way.

There's also a killer clown jack-in-the-box that looks harmless on its outside, but takes on a life of its own, shaking violently until finally springing open with still another killer clown inside grasping at people.

Also new is an area called "shock therapy," where electricity will be pumped into door handles, and as visitors reach out to open the door, they'll get a jolt.

Scream machines and power sticks that make loud popping sounds while emitting flashes of light at the same time, have also been added to the mix.

"And of course we have blood city crazy clown town, where we've constructed a city instead of a set that's absolutely filled with the kind of horror that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand," said Vaillant.

Dark crawl spaces and squeeze rooms that make it impossible to circumvent the dangers ahead, are also included in the ghoulish mix, as well as an area filled with giant spiders.

"We've got a way of creating webs better than Spiderman can build, and when people touch them, they will get an eerie feeling," said Vaillant. "And then there's the cornfield, and once you get in there, there will be Leatherface and killer scarecrows coming at people from all directions."

A fog-filled tunnel, church room and cemetery, each designed to create screams, will follow, as will a biohazard area where unspeakable frights take place.

"And we've got our biggest finale ever and are calling it Steadman's Farm," said Vaillant. "It's four massive rooms with a farm house and a swamp, and you never know what you'll find there."

Haunted Hill is sponsored by the Recreation Department and funds are used to supplement the department's budget. The event raised $30,000 a year ago. This year's proceeds, according to Crawley, will be used to help defray improvements at the Tucker Field athletic complex.

Rich Vaillant, designer of Cumberland's Haunted Hill, left, stands with a pair of ghouls that will be awaiting visitors to this year's event in Diamond Hill Park. (Valley Breeze photo by Paul R. Dubois)