CHURCH HILL — The spirits have been silent in eastern Church Hill for the past five years, but soon the hills will ring with the sound of screams and “cha-chings.”
After a five-year Halloween hiatus, the Painter Hollow Haunted Barn in Church Hill will be open again starting at sunset on Saturday, Oct. 5.
For 10 years the haunted barn was hugely popular and a successful fundraiser, earning as much as $8,000 per year in its heyday for a variety of charities ranging from cancer research, to local youth sports and Volunteer High School teams.
Other dates include Friday and Saturday of Oct. 11-12, 18-19, and 25-26; as well as Halloween on Thursday, Oct. 31, and Friday, Nov. 1
The barn’s revival was inspired by Volunteer football player Christian Gibson, who came up with the idea this past summer while working part time baling hay in the barn for owner Chris Christian.
Gibson recruited some of his football teammates — including Levi Mullins, Caleb Scott, Peyton Derrick, Quinn Brooks and Conner Crum — to work weekends and after practice converting the barn back into a den of terror.
So far, the most horrifying task for the guys has been shoveling out the horse dung. Having cleared the way for foot traffic, they have been creating mazes, traps and surprises for their future victims.
Without giving away too much, it's safe to say there will be a strong emphasis on killer clowns.
The grand finale is a ride from the loft down a slide, which was also one of the highlights of the original haunted barn.
The boys are receiving assistance from Church Hill Intermediate School student Rylee Bell, who is a horror movie fan and has taken on the design of one room by herself — a slaughterhouse for zombies.
“I love Halloween,” Bell said. “It's my favorite holiday. I'm doing a pretty big section. I'm really thankful for it. It's a butcher shop, and it's going to be really scary.”
Admission to the haunted barn is $10, and 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to charity.
“The football team will be getting some of it, and the rest of it will be going to charities,” Gibson said. “We just haven't decided which ones yet.”
But if you want to come by and just watch other people get scared, that's free.
There will be a bonfire with marshmallows and s'mores, a haunted forest sideshow and a horror movie playing on the big screen. Visitors are invited to bring a lawn chair and stay for a while ... if they have the guts.
Christian hosted the original haunted barn to raise money for a youth football league banquet.
“We had parents up here and the kids riding the horse, doing a group activity, and one of the parents said, ‘Man, this would make a fantastic haunted barn,’ ” Christian said. “I said, ‘Go for it,’ and it just grew from there.”
After 10 consecutive years, however, some of the original organizers had run out of energy, and the haunted barn fell by the wayside.
Christian: “Age. We all got older. Our kids grew up and we ran out of time. We still wanted to do it, and the founding members have all come by wanting to help. But when you're working 40, 50, 60 hours per week and your energy level is not what it was 15 years ago. … We needed some young, energetic people with fresh ideas, and here we are.”
The barn is located down the gravel road at 335 Montgomery Ave, directly across from the Cedar Street intersection. There will be plenty of signs, so you can’t miss it.
For more information and updates, you can follow Painter Hollow Haunted Barn on Facebook.