Normal’s Haunted Trail takes months of preparation

Attendees wait in line to cross Vernon and enter the Haunted Trail.

Emily Schlueter

Attendees wait in line to cross Vernon and enter the Haunted Trail.

The Haunted Trail, a Halloween mainstay in Normal for the past 22 years, entertained and frightened locals the last 2 weekends of October. The two variations of the Haunted Trail, the non-scary trail, Oct. 19-21 from 5-8:30 pm, and the scary trail, Oct. 27-28 from 5:30-9:30 pm, attracted over a thousand people each night.

The route began on the Constitution Trail at the Vernon Avenue crossing and ended at the Connie Link Amphitheatre (approximately ¼ mile). Normal’s Parks and Recreation Department sponsors the Haunted Trail annually.

Roughly 100 volunteers were needed per night for various jobs (e.g. collecting money, scaring in costume along the trail, passing out hot chocolate at the end). Angela Malone, Aquatics and Special Events Supervisor for the town of Normal, said the most difficult part of organizing the Haunted Trail is getting volunteers to show up.

“For example, on Thursday the 19th, the first day of the non-scary Haunted Trail,” Malone said, “we had about 15 people who were signed up for non-costume positions and out of those 15 people we only had 1 person show up. I spend a lot of time over-recruiting.”

The largest undertaking, this process begins in August.

Costume preparation begins in September. “I usually start working,” Malone said, “getting them organized, getting them out, cleaned, if any repairs need to be made, purchasing new ones, a week or two after labor day.” The vast majority are recycled annually.


Emily Schlueter
Upon exiting, attendees are welcome to hot chocolate and candy in the Connie Link Amphitheater.

Beyond preparation, Malone loves the experience itself. Malone’s favorite part of the Trail is “on the non-scary weekends, the little kids that come out and are just so entertained by the characters that we have… they’re just so enthralled with it.” She loves “people’s reactions when they’re scared, they’re screaming and jumping, it’s very entertaining.”


Miranda Dehaai (11), a volunteer at the event since 2015, concurred. “It’s very fun to entertain the kids mostly. They’re like ‘can I take a picture?’ or ‘can I have a hug?’”

Dehaai became involved with the Haunted Trail through NCHS’s Key Club freshman year. Her experience inspired her to push the opportunity to volunteer elsewhere. “I’m an Interact [Club] board member now so I decided to make that a volunteer opportunity in Interact because I enjoyed it so much with Key Club.”

She says students at NCHS should sign up through Interact Club next year if they’re interested in participating in the Haunted Trail.