WILMINGTON — The Haunted Woods returns to Wilmington this month. Stephen Valenti and his team at Friends Haunted Productions are back at the Harnden Tavern, where they have introduced scary clowns, evil witches and bloodthirsty zombies to a normally quiet barn and sleepy wooded trail. The haunt is comprised of themed rooms in the carriage house, followed by a moonlit walk through the woods.
Valenti is reviving the seasonal favorite for 2017 after taking a year off. Haunts are a passion for Valenti, who has been creating such events since even before his involvement with the Harnden Tavern.
After debuting the project in other locations beginning in 2009, the Haunted Woods first set up camp at the Harnden Tavern property in October 2013. The move has given Valenti the opportunity to expand the experience his team is able to create, while simultaneously benefiting a local institution.
Museum Curator Terry McDermott welcomed the return of the event.
“The property comes alive during the weeks of the Haunted Woods,” she said. “The Harnden Tavern is such a beloved town property, and even though the Museum is not open during this event, it is great to see so many people able to enjoy the grounds.”
Community involvement in the event is also key to its success. Local high school students volunteer as performers and support staff during the event, and the Wilmington Company of Minutemen and Historical Commission members assist with parking and crowd management.
In addition, this year’s event feature will be a snack bar, offered by the Wilmington High CATS (Choral and Theater Support) group.
This event would not be possible were it not for the abundant talent and dedication of the Friends Haunted Productions team. The Friends team works tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the event to place people and props throughout the property, creating the “delightfully terrifying experience” for which the Haunted Woods has become known.
The 2017 event will feature both new frights and old favorites, and Valenti is enthusiastic that this will be the haunt’s best year yet.
“I really look forward to seeing guests react to our attractions,” Valenti said. “I’m always trying to think of how we can make it even scarier the next time.”
The Haunted Wood is a fundraiser for the Wilmington Town Museum. It is located at the Harnden Tavern property, 430 Salem St. in Wilmington, on Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28 (Fridays and Saturdays) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Donations of $10 for adults and $7 for students are requested.