Many know that the month of October is the time for goons and goblins. It’s time for candy, zombies and the scariest of scares, but it’s also time for giving and thoughtfulness.
Now in their third year, the DeGeare family has been going all out year after year to give their community something to buzz about, a haunted hay ride; a free haunted hay ride.
It started out just as something for the family. Each October they would meet for their annual bonfire at the end of Page Branch Road. One year Bobby DeGeare, his son Christopher DeGeare and his two son-in-laws decided to fix up the woods for a haunted hay ride. After doing this, the family told him that they should open it up to the public. Bobby and his wife discussed the topic and seeing that there were a lot of families who could not afford to enjoy these types of things, they decided to open it up to the public free of charge.
“When you go to haunted attractions they like to charge $25-$30 and people around here can’t afford that,” explained Bobby. “So we decided to do it for free. From there we did it one night on a weekend and had about 75 people show up.”
The following year they made the attraction a little bigger, added a few new things to it and opened it up for an entire weekend. According to Bobby, it went over extremely well; so well that they wanted to make it a yearly tradition for the community of Elsberry. This year they went even bigger by adding a 35-foot tunnel, fog, strobe lights, the witch’s castle, an electric chair, butcher shop and more. They even implemented a cast of creepers to jump out at un-expecting visitors.
“My family and I have quite a bit of time and I’d say we’ve invested about $700 into it this year, but things like the materials for the tunnel was donated by Moscow Mills Tractor Supply. People’s Bank and Trust donated money so we could buy candy and stuff for the kids and the Hensley’s who own the Pre-School on Page Branch Park, donated a bunch of pumpkins and stuff to help decorate.”
Bobby said they have been fortunate enough to have several people help in making this event a success and for that he is thankful. He went on to say that any donations they receive, they put right back into ride the following year.
“I never thought it would grow to be what it is,” said Bobby. “We just thought it was going to be a local thing, as we never advertise for it, but the kids put it on their Facebook about a month before we have it and we hang up a few signs at a few of the local businesses.”
Other than that Bobby said they really do no advertising, yet they have seen people come from as far as Granite City, IL. and Springfield, which tells him that word has gotten around.
“It’s nice to see people coming from all over as families,” said Bobby. “We have had a lot of families, not just kids, but families and they all ride. Its fun and it’s a great feeling to have them come off that hay ride saying they can’t believe we do this for free.”
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