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Thrill and chills on Cemetery Road

Mike Rugg stands next to the guillotine he made, one of many stations at his spooky trail.   - Leslie Brown/Staff Photo
Mike Rugg stands next to the guillotine he made, one of many stations at his spooky trail.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/Staff Photo

When Mike and Yolanda Rugg moved to their home at the end of a long driveway off of Cemetery Road eight years ago, neighbors told them not to expect many visitors on Halloween night.

Sure enough, only four people — two of them children — showed up.

The Ruggs set out to do something about the scant interest in trick-or-treating. And thus began what has become nothing short of an obsession for Mike Rugg — a spooky trail at their home in the woods that last year drew 600 people.

Initially, it was all word of mouth. Then, Rugg started putting signs up here and there. This year, he consented to talk about it publicly — braced, he said, for the onslaught.

“We’ll hand out candy until we don’t have anymore,” he said.

The trail is simple — it’s really a walk along his circular drive. But with towering firs casting dark shadows, dangling skeletons, macabre-looking clowns and a few live actors wielding chain saws, the effect can be frightening, he said.

“We’ve had a couple people faint,” he said, grinning.

A talkative man with a boyish personality, Rugg clearly enjoys the art and craft of terror. He does a lot of research and development on the Internet, he said, adding, as he pointed to his head, “It’s all in here.”

He fabricates most of his ghouls, zombies and dismembered body parts himself, many with materials donated by friends and business owners. Every year, he adds to his collection of props and rearranges his trail, “so you’ll never know what’ll be coming at you.”

Even with donations, he guesses he’s spent thousands of dollars on his spooky trail. Why does he do it?

“The exhilaration,” he said. “You look out at your property, and you think, ‘Gosh, I know almost everybody out there, and now I’m chasing them with a chain saw.’”

 

The Spooky Trail is located at 8812 Cemetery Road. It’s open on Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m. Admission is free.

 

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