Taking a Ride on the Dark Side
The Haunted Car Crawl is back for a second year in a row.
Haunted Car Crawl Continues the Tradition
By Grace Allen
Norfolk families have enjoyed chills and thrills at the Haunted Train Ride every October for close to twenty years. In 2020, because of the pandemic, the popular event was reimagined as the Haunted Car Crawl. This month, the car crawl returns again to the Freeman-Kennedy School complex. The socially-distanced spooktacular is scheduled for Saturday, October 23 from 5 to 8:30 p.m., rain or shine.
Vehicles will drive through eerie scenarios set up throughout the school grounds, where costumed volunteers will provide some family-friendly scares. The event is geared towards kids in kindergarten through middle school. As the evening gets darker, the crawl gets scarier.
A joint venture between two town organizations, the Norfolk Lions and the Norfolk Community League (NCL), the Haunted Car Crawl (and its precursor) involves the efforts of many volunteers to set up, create and haunt the venues, and cleanup after the night.
The pandemic almost interrupted the beloved fall event.
“We weren’t sure if the Haunted Train Ride was going to happen,” recounted Kendra Bixby, one of the committee members from the NCL, describing a meeting in 2020. “We sat outside in lawn chairs at the town’s gazebo, six feet apart wearing masks, trying to figure it out. We wanted it to happen but we wanted everyone to feel safe and be safe. That was our main focus.”
The idea of a car crawl—with families ensconced in their own vehicles—coalesced as NCL and Lions committee members brainstormed different options. It would be a way to continue the Haunted Train Ride tradition but with a new twist.
Jennifer Cote, another committee member from the NCL, said the can-do attitude of the two citizen-led volunteer groups helped overcome the obstacles thrown in their way by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Lions are just amazing,” she said. “They put so much heart into everything they do for the community. We all kind of came together and decided we were going to make this happen in some way.”
The Haunted Car Crawl was so successful last year—tickets sold out in minutes—that the committee is hopeful the reimagined event will provide another night of scary good memories for area families in the midst of still-trying times.
Up until last year, he Haunted Train Ride had been held in the woods next to the Holmes Bus Company on Myrtle Street in Norfolk. Participants rode antique, miniature trains on a half-mile loop through haunted woods. The rare trains belong to Dick Holmes and were originally amusement park rides.
This year will mark the twenty-first anniversary of the event. Proceeds from ticket sales are distributed right back into the community. Since its inception, the Haunted Train Ride (and now the Haunted Car Crawl) has raised close to $150,000.
Bixby said the committee members are hopeful the Haunted Train Ride will return one day. The beloved yearly event is too important to area families and the volunteers to become another victim of the pandemic.
She added, “When this pandemic does fade away, we want to be able to say we did keep the Haunted Train Ride alive in our own way, that we did everything we could to keep the tradition in place.”
At press time, Haunted Car Crawl tickets were still available. Price is $30 per vehicle and can be purchased through the Norfolk Lions at www.norfolkmalions.org. “Boo Bag” treat bags and t-shirts are also available for purchase.
Participants are invited to come in costume. There will also be a coat drive at the beginning of the crawl. Just hand any coat donations out the window to a volunteer.
If you’d like to contribute a carved pumpkin for the pumpkin patch, visit the group’s Facebook page (Haunted Train Ride Norfolk) and look for the Pumpkin-Palooza SignUpGenius link.