By Josh Beavers
The ride began about a half a mile away. My wife and I found ourselves on the back of a trailer where we were joined by 8 or 9 kids a lot younger than half our age. We sat on the small bales of hay, and the late October wind chilled as we rode in the open night air to the haunt.
The pasture was dark save for the glow of a movie screen. It was likely a strange sight to any passerby on Miller Road Saturday night. The truck pulling our trailer rolled to a stop. The creepy music the driver had been playing was killed, and on the screen appeared a pair of undead immortals. They may have been vampires, not certain, but what was for sure is that they were set to be our guardians through the ghouls that were to come.
We weren’t in a Hollywood horror film but instead just participating in one of the coolest and most well-thought out local haunted trail rides in which this writer has ever participated. It was put on for the community by Eastside Missionary in Minden, and the number of young people in attendance was truly remarkable.
Our pale-skinned guides told us the history of the land, a remarkable back story about a tragic family and the spooky legacy they’ve left behind. The trail wound us through the woods; torches lined the way and strobe effects, and rudimentary but effective practical effects thoroughly scared the young people in front of us.
One little boy was so spooked by the “Stage 3” zombies that he raced back past us older folk with an audible “nope, I’m out.” I assume he made his way back to his friends and the “Stage 3” didn’t get him.
At the end of the attraction, we were offered a ride in the truck with the kind couple who were hosting the larger part of the event at their home on Sugar Creek. Their house was the drop off and pick up point and the place for hot dogs, jambalaya, deserts and all kinds of other treats. All of this, like the haunt itself, was completely free. It was just the work of a group of adults who wanted to give the young people of Minden a good laugh and a good scare on Halloween.
Trailer load after trailer load passed through. All night long.
All the ghouls were played by locals, adults, and teens alike, and our silver screen narrators and future guides were Justin Greer and Cale Frye. To say they were enjoying their job would be an understatement. The costumes, the exaggerated accents, and the acting showed folks really enjoying the simple act of making others happy.
That was what I saw all over Minden on Saturday night. I took my youngest and a couple of her little friends trick or treating to kick off the evening and made our way through a couple of neighborhoods. Some houses that are usually bustling with activity were dimmed. Signs in some of their yards about Covid and its occupants being at risk. That was sobering but a reminder and indication, I think, of why last night and the Trunk or Treat at the library earlier this week were so well attended.
Kids missed Halloween. Adults missed Halloween. Covid killed it last year.
At the Rec Center, Rocke Musgraves told me they were amazed at the attendance. All parking lots were full, and the line for the haunted house had a couple hundred constantly waiting to pass through.
Candy was gone by 7ish and there were still at least two hours to go. Kids didn’t care. Smiles. Laughs. Frights. Something normal.
Minden did good this week. Minden came together this week. We showed that, once again, there is more that unites us than divides us. Our common humanity, our common bonds of love for our young people. And, apparently, our community has a common love for that special holiday that comes at the end of every October.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be this united every day? That should be the goal, and it’s not as unattainable as some make out. It takes us, you and me, the common folk, to keep doing what we’re doing. Keep our kids together. Keep giving smiles and authentic hellos to each other. Keep remembering we’re all humans, all in this together.
Remember the faces of our young ones.
And leave Minden a little better for them than it was left for you.
I’ll keep working, and I hope you do, too.