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Haunted Pine Point set to put scare into visitors

Mike Swan hoists a haunted buddy out of the back of his truck Wednesday that will be part of the Pine Point Haunted School program in Ponsford this Saturday and next Saturday. “We add to it every year,” Swan said about his truckload of supplies that will enhance the gruesome exhibits. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

The blood-streaked walls are horrifying. You get a queasy feeling looking at the place.  The hosts don’t diminish the queasiness. They’re just ghastly; their fangs dripping with blood.  The threshold question you’re asked before you enter Ponsford’s haunted house is if you have a heart condition.  If the answer is yes, kindly step aside.  The haunted schoolhouse will open to screams and fainting tonight, Saturday, at the old Pine Point School, 7-9 p.m.  Hosts suggest your first stop is the bathroom because some of the displays – actually the whole place – will scare the bejabbers out of you.  A tour of the place in the daylight only heightened the anxiety and you imagine how scary it will be at night.  Next Saturday, Oct. 24, it will be held again 7-9 p.m. – it’s the swansong for the year. “We’ve had to stop the tour several times to get people out of here,” said Ponsford community activist Mike Swan, who sets up the “spook house” as locals call it. Frightened visitors could just not go on, he admitted.  Then there was the time they found someone crawling around in the dark and questioned what she was doing.  Trying to find the exit, the frightened guest replied.  “Sasquatch might come out of the woods,” Swan said.

It was unclear if this was a joke or truth.  “We only have two rules here,” Swan explained. "You can’t grab anyone (if you’re portraying a spook) and you can’t chase anyone.”  But he admitted, “There’s a few people in the village that won’t ever come back, even in the daytime.”  But when kids tour, “We down tone it for them,” he acknowledged.  

The tour goes through numerous chambers and rooms over two floors of the school and has been scaring people for eight years, Swan explained.  A consortium of local groups is behind the fright nights, including the Pine Point Community Council, the Pow Wow Committee, the Midwest Paranormal group and tribal boys and girls clubs.  “We have 25-30 volunteers when it’s open,” Swan said. Last year 800 people were scared out of their wits as they toured the haunted house.  It’s an elaborate maze of darkened places where scary things happen, like ghosts and ghouls popping out of closets and other props along the way.  Swan remembers escorting four girls through the halls a few years ago and had to toss the sweater he was wearing, it had been so tugged out of place by the end of the tour. It had been pulled in every direction, he said. Kids under age 7 aren’t allowed to venture in. It’s just too scary.  But it’s the adults that really freak out, he said.  

“We all look forward to this,” he admitted. “We have a great time with it.”  His truck bed was filled with body parts ofmannequins and another scary spooky creature, who was keeping company with Cousin It.  “We add to it each year,” he said. He’d just returned from Fargo where he’d stocked up on spooky things.  To date there’s only been one injury from a guy who sprained his ankle running out.  And then there was the lady who left without one shoe on. She came back two years later to look for it, Swan said.  Sponsors let groups of six in while the waiting list sits in the old cafetorium for their turn. But hearing the screams down the hallways adds to the anxiety of the tour, he said.  Turning the first corner, you immediately forget you’re in an old school as you become disoriented.  

There’s a spider room and one narrow hallway has hands grabbing visitors’ arms out of nowhere. Spooky music enhances the fear. There’s a graveyard and…don’t trip over any appendages sneaking out from under the graves.  Even kids take part in the fun, dressing like little ghouls.  We don’t want to blow any of the surprises, but what is that leaf blower doing down the hallway?  And is that a real chain saw tucked away in the corner?  The school is located at 48580 Pow Wow Highway in Ponsford.  Boo!

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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