John Workman’s been laboring at Fort Wayne’s Haunted Castle and Black Forest so long, both his sons have assisted with the popular Halloween attractions.
“Both of my boys have spent time working here,” Workman said proudly. “And I’ve been volunteering here for about 20 years.”
On a recent chilly October Friday night, hundreds of visitors came to experience the fruit of the Workman family’s labors, filling St. Vincent’s church parking lot, then lining up dozens deep to make their way into the popular Halloween attractions.
Located at 8965 Auburn Road, the cost to go through the attractions are: $10 for the Haunted Castle; $10 for the Black Forest; and $16 to walk through both.
In operation since 1980, the attraction is maintained and operated by youngsters and adults associated with the St. Vincent’s Boy Scouts, Troop 2, Varsity Team 6402, and Venture Crew 2802.
Volunteer help also is given by local Cub Scout groups, as well as by other local Boy Scouts, the American Heritage Girls and other individual volunteers.
More than 100 volunteers give their time to staff the attractions, Workman said, including doing all the creepy makeup it takes to put a fright into all the folks who tour the Castle and Forest.
In 2010, the Haunted Castle moved to its current location, a new two-story building next to St. Vincent Scout Lodge.
The Haunted Castle consists of several haunt scenes, including creepy fortune tellers, ghouls popping out of dusty coffins, and bloody-faced vampires lurking in dark corners, waiting for guests to cross their paths, so they can jump out and scare them. Blood-curdling screams and ghostly moans waft in the air throughout both attractions, piercing the silence one experiences when first entering.
The castle also features two slides that let guests quickly move from the top floor to the ground floor. The Black Forest, meanwhile, is an outdoor haunt that leads visitors through a winding gravel trail along Beckett’s Run Creek.
It takes about 30 minutes to stroll through each attraction.
The Castle and Black Forest also feature autumn-themed concessions, with hot dogs, popcorn, soft drinks and hot chocolate for sale at reasonable prices.
Money raised from admissions and concession sales all go to support the Boy Scouts, Workman said. “This helps to pay for the Boy Scout program all year long and take care of the property,” Workman said.
Workman, whose sons Tommy and Billy both were Boy Scouts who’ve benefited from the funds brought in by the Castle and Forest, said the attractions are about more than just a fun Halloween scare.
“It’s something to do with your family; it’s fun; and it’s a reasonable price,” he said. “And we wouldn’t have been doing this for 30-plus years if people didn’t enjoy it.”
The Haunted Castle and Black Forest are open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays up to (and including) Halloween night. Thursday and Sunday hours run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday hours are from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In addition, guests will receive $1 off their admissions if they bring a canned good to donate. The Black Forest also is hosting a Trunk or Treat for children on October 28, in which volunteers welcome trick-or-treaters to their cars – as if they were homes – and pass out candy and goodies to the children.
For more information on both attractions, visit www.hauntedcastle.com