So, every year, from about mid September to the end of October, theme and amusement parks around the country do their Halloween haunts. These haunts are full of haunted mazes, houses, ‘scare zones’ and shows. People generally attend these events for the purpose of getting scared and being entertained. Seems reasonable, right? I thought so, until the last few years, anyway.
Cedar Fair, the parent company of one of my local theme parks, Kings Dominion, started selling ‘No Boo’ necklaces for ten dollars. The purpose of the necklace is simple: when worn and turned on (they light up) the ‘scare actors’ are not supposed to ‘come after’ the wearer.
So, I’m going to spend forty to fifty dollars for park entrance and another ten for a necklace so I WON’T get scared? Seriously? Who do they think I am? Why in the world would I do that? Its Halloween, right?
Well, on a recent visit, I found out why one would purchase them. See, these events are not for children or people with certain conditions, like PTSD or weak hearts. It was the child aspect, however, that made me aware.
Years ago, when my oldest son was about five or six, my late wife and I took him to his first ‘haunt’ experience at Kings Dominion. The two had this bond with Halloween: Chase LOVED dressing up and going around the block and then giving out the candy. Jo Ellen LOVED it too, but she loved the being scared part as well. So, naturally, the Halloween event at the park would be perfect. Only, it wasn’t.
Chase got so upset after the second maze, I took him aside and rode a few rides and walked around with him to get him calmed down. I had to avoid things so he could still have a good time. That no boo necklace would have been perfect.
The next year, however, was quite different. He WANTED to go and loved being scared. But, that first year, yeah, that was a big fat mistake. Had we had the boo necklace, though, it may have been different.
That recent visit, though, showed me the necessity of the necklace as well as the quality of the people that the park hired. While watching Chase scare (yes, that same frightened little boy grew up and now does the scaring) people, we saw a family walk through the ‘Cleaver Brothers’ scare zone. Cleaver Brothers represents a circus show full of evil clowns. Scary clowns.
This family consisted of the mother, father and three children of various ages, but no older than maybe seven. As they went through the zone, each of the actors would stop and interact with the children. Every time, those kids were smiling and laughing and having a wonderful time. I was amazed at how well the actors managed to be scary to guests near the children, yet not scare the hell out of the kids. It was obvious that both the kids and the actors were enjoying it.
Not to be cliche, but it was a wonderful sight and heartwarming. It was very nice to see and these young people, as well as the park, deserve major kudos for walking a very fine line. It would have been very easy for the actors to ignore the children and go after the adults. They didn’t and it was nice to see.
I even saw some actors in the ‘Ironworx’ zone interact with some adults who were wearing the necklaces. While not as nice to see as the kids, it was a welcome sight nonetheless. I don’t know why those people wore them, nor do I need to know. They had reasons and that’s OK.
Did I say ‘heartwarming’?
Heartwarming and Halloween don’t seem to go together.
They did. This time.