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Scouts transform Dishman Hills into an unnatural area

Sun., Oct. 30, 2011, midnight

As he caught sight of a menacing figure slinking away ahead of him, one young boy exclaimed, “Oh brother, a chain saw!”

As his group continued down the path through the Dishman Hills Natural Area on Saturday, the boy kept an eye over his shoulder, in case the saw-wielding man re-emerged behind him. He told his father that the man “could be following us.”

For the sixth year running, local Boy Scouts, Explorer and Venturing troops have transformed the natural area off Appleway Boulevard into a Trail of Terror – a dark wood full of the stuff of nightmares for those looking for a haunting Halloween.

“This is our best year yet,” said John Eastman, district director of the Inland Northwest Boy Scouts Council. “We had people screaming last night, and it wasn’t just teenage girls. It was guys, too.”

Fourteen Scout units and 180 actors helped haunt the trail this year, raising money to send Scouts to camp and help the district cover other expenses. When not in character, many of the Scouts camped out at the area over the weekend.

In the light of day Saturday, the Scouts put on a program that was more fun than frightful for youngsters. Ghouls led the kids in games and gave out stickers and toys sure to not cause any cavities.

“It’s fun,” dad Justin Kellum, of Spokane, said while walking the haunted trail. “They’re at the age where they probably could handle something more scary, but it’s something fun for them to do.”

A boastful Lucas Vinyard, 5, said he wasn’t scared at all by the trail.

“It’s fun, not scary,” he said.

When it comes time for the bigger folks to come through the woods, Eastman said, the forest casts a perfect atmosphere, with the low lights casting silhouettes around the thrill-seekers.

“It’s eerie,” he said.

Several hundred people came out for the haunted trail Friday night, organizers said, and with the weather clearing up, they expected more Saturday.

“People like to be scared, in a safe environment,” Eastman said.

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