By Julianne Bartosz
The Walk of Horror at Saint Mary’s University is in its 15th year and still scaring people of all ages from the Winona community. The screams will be heard throughout SMU’s bluffs on Oct. 21-22 and 29-31 from 7 to 10 p.m.
About 1,100 people walk through the haunted forest every year, according to SMU head fastpitch softball coach Jen Miller. The Walk of Horror is the fastpitch softball team’s main fundraiser, said Miller. This year the money raised will help the team pay for it’s spring trip for a tournament in Clermont, Fla.
The Walk of Horror is a fun and safe event for all ages, according to Miller. She said that the scare level is decreased for younger children and increased for only the bravest of groups.
“It’s a good team-building activity that [also] serves the Winona community,” said Miller.
The softball team gets to know each other while working together to design, plan, and carry out all the scenes in the haunted walk, said junior fastpitch player Paige Carter. “We get to know teammates as players during our fall ball season, but the haunted forest lets us get to know each other outside of softball. We bond as a team and get to see everyone’s goofy side,” said Carter.
The Walk of Horror covers the same path every year, but scenes and scares change every year. Miller said that the same advertising design has been used for several years now and “it’s become a trademark.”
Approaching her third year of work with the haunted forest, Carter said, “It’s amazing that people come back for the scare even after 15 years, but we change it up every year, and half of our team is new so I’m interested to see the new spin.”
It is freshman softball player Sam Borawski’s first year working the haunted forest and she “cannot wait to scare people when they least expect it.” She said, “I don’t know what was done in the past, but the [returning players] said that people want more things that will make them jump, so we planned them. It was important to them to plan new things while considering people’s comments from last year after walking the trail.”
This year, the softball team will be assisted by the women’s hockey team.
Said Carter, “We do the majority of the work and the scaring, but other people help, too. Our coaches are the biggest help we receive.”
After all of their hard work, Carter said, “The biggest reward is hearing that people like it and come back a second time [in the same year]. It is nice to know our time and effort was not wasted.”
Borawski also said that the upperclassmen believe the outcome reflects the effort put in. She said that returning players “take pride in it, but the enjoyment that visitors show make it worth it, especially when they return year after year.”
Brave community members who walk the trail meet on the path between the baseball and softball fields.
The cost is $5 for adults and $4 for students with ID and children 12 and younger. For more information, contact Miller at 507-457-6923.